A cleverly-scripted satire of ’70’s flicks with fine slapstick, flight-related comedy, disaster spoofs, wordplay, and major cameos sadly ruined by some of the most awful (cringe-inducing) acting I’ve *ever* witnessed in the genre’s history. 5.7/10.
Plot Synopsis: This spoof comedy takes shots at the slew of disaster movies that were released in the 70s. When the passengers and crew of a jet are incapacitated due to food poisoning, a rogue pilot with a drinking problem must cooperate with his ex-girlfriend turned stewardess to bring the plane to a safe landing.
*Possible spoilers ahead*
Review: “Can you fly this plane and land it?” “Surely, you can’t be serious” “I can.. and don’t call me Shirly” One of the most famous comedic references to this day was a mystery to me until this bright and sunny afternoon when I decided to take a stroll back through the ’70’s/’80’s and disaster flicks of yesteryears to find out what all the fuss was about. I could not be more disappointed with the results, in stark contrast to almost every other classic film of cultural ubiquity, with what is a textbook case of when strong writing is spoiled by insultingly amateurish (unwatchable) acting/delivery – A clever satire of ’70’s flicks with fine slapstick, flight-related comedy, disaster spoofs, amusing wordplay, and major cameos sadly ruined by some of the most awful (cringe-inducing) acting I’ve *ever* witnessed in the genre.
Clever airplane comedic stylings through smart screenwriting. The gags themselves are hardly the problem to start the laundry list of faiilings Airplane! endures. Smart slapstick, black comedy implications, amusing plays on words, and first-class disaster spoofs of ’70’s flicks dot the landscape of what must’ve been a top-notch genre piece on paper. Gags like flare-signalers being asked for directions and mis-signaling the plane into the terminal, repeated baggage claim announcements turning into personal conversations over intercom, white grandmas jive-speaking, attack dogs, religious zealot-onslaughts, and automatic (inflatable) pilots are impressively-ridiculous/inventive for good laughs from scene description. The scoring is soaring in symphonic light melodies especially in the romance-spoofs, locational setting great, cameos memorable like basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and plane-centered visuals fine.
But all this is sadly wasted by an absolutely appalling display of some of the worst, most cringe-inducing, AWFUL acting I have witnessed in the genre’s history. It literally made me physically uncomfortable watching for *most* of the film, with some of the unbearably juvenile, silly, amateurish deliveries of such cleverly-written lines for a true shame of comedic genocide. I kid you not, you could lift people off the STREET who are better actors than most of the featured line-givers here, especially Robert Hays, Stephen Stucker, and – most of all – Julie Hagerty. My holiness was she bad. Anyone who says “Oh, it’s a parody – it’s supposed to be bad acting” obviously lacks even a first grade understanding of film – there is no possible logical situation where professional filmmakers, writers, actors, etc. actually *want* their films to have awful delivery of every single line in the film and make viewers uncomfortable for hours of their own free time. Beyond that, some of the gags are just inanely ridiculous and unfeasible like a sick girl’s IV getting knocked out and her instantly dying (plus doing weird fish faces.. W.. T.. F..?).
Overall, Airplane is perhaps the definitive textbook-ready example of shame when superb screenwriting is ruined/wasted by unwatchably-horrific, brainlessly-silly line delivery and acting. A clever satire of ’70’s flicks with fine slapstick, flight-related comedy, disaster spoofs, amusing wordplay, and major cameos sadly ruined by some of the most awful (cringe-inducing) acting I’ve *ever* witnessed in the genre, I have lost a little faith in film review and public opinion for being remotely impressed by this film.
Overall Score: 5.7/10