Airplane! (1979)

Following the modest-but-unexpected success of their sketch-based comedy film Kentucky Fried Movie, Jim Abrahams and David and Jerry Zucker tied their scattershot comedy together using a mostly forgotten WWII based melodrama, Zero Hour and redefined comedy films for the next 25 years. Airplane! would be the #4 movie of the year, but only second in influence—and only arguably—to the #1 film, The Empire Strikes Back. (#2 was the girl-power office comedy 9 to 5.  #3 was Wilder and Pryor’s follow up to The Silver StreakStir Crazy.)

I’ve written extensively about Airplane before. Here’s a post detailing all the movie spoofs I noticed on one viewing.

Nobody shows up to our shows. :(

My Dixieland band named “Cockpit”.

Elmer Bernstein’s score is still amazing. We recently saw Devil in a Blue Dress, which Bernstein also scored and I noticed some similar themes. But this is why it works: The score stays away (mostly) from mwah-mwah trombones and deliberate goofiness. Instead, like the acting, it’s largely done dead serious (Jaws riff notwithstanding), and even overly dramatic.

I didn’t laugh as much this time, though. I enjoyed it; it’s a solid film and the references are not as chained to 1979 as you might expect. The Flower accompanied me to this one, and loved it.

And that’s all I have to say about that. This time.

"Christmas, Ted, what does that mean to you? It was living hell."

“…Loneliness, that’s the bottom line. I was never happy as a child… “

3 thoughts on “Airplane! (1979)

  1. I think you’re doing this movie a disservice. Comedy that lasts the test of time is incredibly rare. The act of flying hasn’t changed much and these jokes still resonate. And the sheer pacing of solid jokes is incredible.

    Airplane is my pick for funniest movie of all time, beating out Blazing Saddles and The Holy Grail.

    • Oh, I’d agree, it’s definitely one of the funniest movies of all time, and one of the funniest =over= time.

      My observation about not laughing as much had more to do with me than the movie. Sometimes I go into a movie thinking I’m not going to laugh and I do, and sometimes I go in thinking I will laugh a lot—and I don’t. It’s remarkably internal and subjective.

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