Flashback to the 1980s! "Airplane!" Review

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Starring Leslie Nielsen, Julie Hagerty and Peter Graves, an airplane crew takes ill. The only person capable of landing the plane is an ex-pilot afraid to fly.
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Flashback to the 1980s! "Airplane!" Review

Rating: PG
Length: 88 min
Release Date: July 2, 1980
Directed By: Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker
Genre: Comedy

"Airplane!" is one of the most beloved comedies of all time. The tongue-in-cheek nature of this classic film has won the hearts of audiences all over the world, and the movie remains a popular source of inspiration for parodies and comedies today. The film revolves around a veteran and retired pilot named Ted Striker. Ted has embarked on a low-level career as a cab driver after an illustrious turn in the military. His former girlfriend, Elaine, has gone in the opposite direction and taken to the skies as an airline stewardess. Determined to win back her affections, Ted snags a last-minute seat on one of Elaine's flights.

Not long after the plane takes off, Elaine notices the unwelcome passenger on her plane. She immediately rebuffs Ted's affections, informing him that she left him so she could begin her new life. While Ted still thinks they have a chance at reconciling their differences, he is hard pressed to get her attention amid the crowded plane of passengers. Unfortunately for everyone, a severe case of food poisoning sweeps through the entire plane, including its passengers and crew. Both of the plane's pilots become severely nauseous to the point that they are unable to fly. The crew quickly realizes that the entire plane has become infected with a rare, foodborne illness. Fortunately, a doctor is on the plane and manages to care for the ill passengers and crew.

Suddenly, the attention of everyone on board, including Elaine, is drawn to Ted Striker. Ted is the only remaining person on the flight who is capable of saving the day and flying the plane to safety on the ground. However, Ted has a rather inconvenient secret to share with his fellow passengers. The reason he left his established career as a pilot to pursue a lackluster career in cab driving is that he had developed a severe phobia of flying. If Ted is unable to get the plane on the ground soon, its infected passengers and crew will perish either from their bizarre illness or the inevitable crash. As the film progresses, Elaine and the others must provide Ted with the support he needs to overcome his fear and get them all to a safe landing. As imagined, the flight is not without its fair share of turbulence and uproarious laughs.

Ted is portrayed by Robert Hays, a comedy veteran and a gifted actor. He is a caricature of the leading man of his time, bold yet hopelessly flawed. Elaine is portrayed by the beautiful Julie Hagerty, and she serves as the perfect romantic foil to Ted's incredibly flawed Casanova. The supporting cast is equally admirable in their performances, delivering their lines with pitch-perfect precision and hilarious timing. "Airplane!" features some of the most often-quoted lines in cinema history. Whether you are seeing the film for the first time or you know every line by heart, chances are you hear some of the film's hilarious one-liners on a regular basis.

Directors Jim Abrahams and David Zucker teamed up to make this star-studded comedy the massive success it has become. Together with a team of brilliant writers, they managed to create a comedy film that balances slapstick humor with intelligent and novel gags. Although the plot and dialog of "Airplane!" is outlandishly comedic, the film somehow manages to maintain a level of comedic sophistication that has yet to be rivaled. Some over-the-top moments include Ted sweating waterfalls in the cockpit and mistaking a common phrase for being called the wrong name. "Don't call me Shirley" will be a familiar line for all moviegoers, whether they have seen the film or not.

There is never a dull moment in "Airplane!," but the film manages to maintain a fairly cohesive plot. Rather than a random collection of comedic moments, "Airplane!" actually features a cohesive narrative and a comedic twist on the classic plot of a hero pursuing the woman he loves. "Airplane!" may be a satire of the romantic comedies and action films of its day, but it has nonetheless become as equally beloved as any film it originally sought to pay tribute to. "Airplane!" can be considered the film that spawned a thousand parodies, and for good reason. The film changed not only the comedy genre but American humor itself, pushing the envelope without using gratuitous profanity or crudity. Whether you simply love comedies or happen to be a classic movie buff, "Airplane!" is a must-have addition to any movie collection.

Rating: 4 out of 5