Thursday, February 11, 2016
What can you say about this film beyond "I am serious, and don't call me Shirley"? This film is the king of spoofs. I am counting it over the excellent spoofs of Monty Python, because unlike movies like Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Airplane! actually includes nearly shot-for-shot and plot-for-plot take-offs of the films it impersonates - mostly Airport 1979. But the best thing about it is you don't need to have seen the earlier disaster movies to find this one funny. So much of the disaster genre has percolated through pop culture to make the movie hilarious without the direct references - the trope of the crew being down, the war hero with PTSD, the sick child, the illness spreading throughout the secluded location, the hardboiled men on the ground attempting to talk through the disaster. And unlike modern spoofs, Airplane! doesn't rely on the existence and recognition of a thing to be funny. Now, of course, not all of the jokes work. Like any great comedy, they just threw everything at the wall to see what stuck. Some things did and some didn't. Everyone who has seen the movie remembers Leslie Nielsen's brilliant turn, because he is taking everything so perfectly seriously. People probably also remember the "drinking problem", and the creepy pilot, and maybe the "Jive to English" translation scene (which would probably never fly today - ha). Other bits, like the Saturday Night Fever take-off are less memorable. Though Saturday Night Fever itself isn't particularly memorable, aside from a couple of scenes, which is why it's interesting to me that it's on the Registry. Overall, I highly recommend this movie. Especially if you have actually had the misfortune to sit through one of the abominations that Friedberg and Seltzer spit out and call spoofs. See one done right for a change. There are two more spoof films on the list for me to talk about - Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein, but they are very different in tone. They did come out a few years earlier, so I guess I should crown one of them the King of Spoof Films, but I saw Airplane! first, and it also has a wider target range. I guess the actual crown goes to Mel Brooks. It's good to be the king.