AIRPLANE! (film retrospective by Mark R. Leeper)
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Mark Leeper
2021-07-11 13:52:49 UTC
Back in 1976 Paramount made a clever satire on high-budget disaster
films. The film was THE BIG BUS and dealt with the maiden voyage
of the world's first nuclear-powered super-bus. This film (which
incidentally should not be confused with its highly re-edited TV
version) took all the cliches of films like AIRPORT and packed them
together, giving each a satiric twist, much as AIRPLANE! would do.
It is a shame that the film did not get more publicity than it did.
Now Paramount seems to have learned their lesson. They have made a
similar film called AIRPLANE! and this film they are giving a big
publicity campaign. If they have learned their lesson, it seems
like it was in time. If THE BIG BUS deserved the publicity,
AIRPLANE! deserves it even more. Whatever was good about THE BIG
BUS is at most little worse and usually better in AIRPLANE!

After seeing AIRPLANE! I can imagine that the script-writers went
over the script for months trying to find new places to stick gags
or new ways to turn scenes upside-down (sometimes literally). The
publicity says that the film averages a joke every seven seconds.
Unfortunately, so much is happening on the screen that the audience
often has their attention distracted away from the funniest thing
that is going on, and audience laughter drowns out some of the gags
in the dialogue. I would estimate that I saw a joke about every
twelve seconds, on the average, and only about half of them struck
me as funny. Still, one funny gag every 24 seconds is nothing to
sneeze at.

To be honest, there is nothing in the film that is all that
hysterically funny (well, maybe a few things). But the
writer/directors depend on a sheer barrage of humor to break down
the viewers' resistance. And the strategy works flawlessly. They
used the same strategy in their previous film KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE,
a movie of dubious taste but nearly as funny as AIRPLANE! The
absurdities of AIRPLANE! come thick and fast from brawling girl
scouts, to a story so sad that people hearing it keep committing
suicide, to the co-pilot (played by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) being
recognized as Kareem and having to defend his basketball strategy.
At least a dozen films are satirized in the course of AIRPLANE!,
including some clever gags at the expense of JAWS, SATURDAY NIGHT
FEVER, and FROM HERE TO ETERNITY. There are cameo appearances of
such notables as Howard Jarvis and Ethel Merman. All in all,
AIRPLANE! is a lot of film packed into its all too scant 88

Mark R. Leeper
Spiros Bousbouras
2021-07-13 20:24:23 UTC
On Sun, 11 Jul 2021 06:52:49 -0700 (PDT)
Post by Mark Leeper
absurdities of AIRPLANE! come thick and fast from brawling girl
scouts, to a story so sad that people hearing it keep committing
From what I remember , the people commit suicide because the story is boring
not sad.