Saturday, July 5, 2014

Airplane! (1980)

Airplane!A clever, funny parody of disaster movies (bad melodramas such as "Zero Hour" and "The High and The Mighty" along with "Airport" were the prime targets here), "Airplane! The `Don't Call Me Shirley' Edition" manages to combine silliness, puns and with topical humor in a style that recalls something out of an alternate off-kilter universe. Filled with melodramatic, over-the-top music, deliberately bad acting and every cliché about plane disasters you can imagine, "Airplane!" aims wildly and accurately most of the time taking the wind out of the sails of bad (and some good ones, too such as "Jaws")movies everywhere. Evidently the writing/directing team of Zucker, Zucker and Abrahams (who wrote "Kentucky Friend Movie" for director John Landis and later went on to crate "The Naked Gun" films) caught "Zero Hour" on TV and realized that this overripe melodrama was just right to be plucked and served up as comedy (something it verged on anyway).

Robert Hays plays Ted Striker(the name of Dana Andrews' character in "Zero Hour!") a former fighter pilot who is now afraid to pilot planes since a disastrous mission years before. Striker books a seat on the flight of his girlfriend Elaine (Julie Hagerty) in hopes of working out their relationship. When the crew and passengers are brought down by food poisoning Ted has to overcome his fears to pilot the plane to safety.

While the film looks very good (and better than its previous edition), I was a bit disappointed by the amount of dirt and debris. I thought that a deluxe edition like this would have a nearly pristine print and that Paramount would have the film digitally cleaned up. Overall the film looks good but could have been tweaked more for this special edition. The soundtrack sounds pretty good overall and is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 with dialogue clear and little distortion.

The extras are where this edition truly shines. "Airplane! The `Don't Call Me Shirley Edition" doesn't have any of the conventional special features you'd expect. There's no "making-of" documentary or featurettes on the film per se. The "Long Haul Version" allow you to watch the film with frequent detours into comments by the actors (Hays is present but Julie Hagerty curiously isn't), writers/directors and other production crew. We also get deleted scenes in the "Long Haul" section that are quite amusing in many instances as well. Included in the "Long Haul" version are clips from the movie that inspired the Zuckers/Abrahams "Zero Hour". We also get the theatrical trailer and a clever menu that presents some of the classic scenes from the film as if you're watching an animated version of those horrible safety/disaster cards they place on airplanes drawn in the same style. This is like watching the movie, deleted scenes and a documentary at the same time. It's a great conceit and works pretty well here. There is also a subtitle track that features trivia about the movie and points out visual mistakes, etc. throughout the movie.

There's a good commentary track featuring the directors sharing stories about the production of the movie. This sounds like the commentary track from the previous edition. The commentary track provides a lot of amusing stories, trivia and background about the movie. Many of the comments are also echoed in the extended branching edition of the movie so listening to the commentary track really can't compare to watching the seamlessly branching edition.

A classic comedy that still works amazingly well, this special edition of "Airplane!" is well worth it for the fans of the movie. Although the image quality could have been cleaned up a little bit more for this presentation, it's a pretty minor issue really as the "special features" make this edition worthwhile for fans of this classic bit of madness.

Anyone who has ever seen one of a host of abysmal 1970's disaster flicks could have predicted that they were ripe for a satire, but I doubt anyone could have predicted that "Airplane" would have set the gold standard for the spoof. In addition, since it appears on TV so often, seeing it on DVD is almost a new experience because all of the scenes that were cut for content seem like new jokes.

I can't imagine anyone is unfamiliar with the plot (such as it is), but by way of a brief summary, a passenger jet is in trouble when the entire flight crew, and many of the passengers, fall ill from the in flight meal. It's up to Ted Striker to bring down the plane safely; but there's just one problem, he hasn't been able to fly since his last abortive raid during "the war". Oh, and his estranged girlfriend is one of the stewardesses. However, where a disaster film would turn this into an overwrought melodrama, absolutely nothing, and I do mean nothing, is taken seriously in "Airplane".

In fact, it is almost remarkable how much is packed into this film. Literally every scene contains a joke or a sight gag or a double entendre. There's so much going on that in spite of dozens of viewings, I still find something new more often than not. Eve the sound effects are a gag, as all of the exterior shots of the plane (which is a model that is so fake it's hilarious) feature the sound of a prop plane even though it is obviously a jet.

The DVD doesn't have much to recommend it other than the film, but that's to be expected from an older, relatively low budget movie; and those who have seen it would agree, there can't have been much left on the cutting room floor to make up extra features. The image and sound are fine, if not spectacular, but then neither needs to be. However, having the film in widescreen is nice because some of the wide angle shots now contain people that weren't visible in the fullscreen version familiar to TV viewers.

In the end, "Airplane" may very well be the king of movie satires. From start to finish it is a non-stop joke reel, and the amazing thing is that they are all still funny years after the first viewing. Fans of the movie will find this DVD to be adequate, as the transfer and sound are fine, but don't count on any new material or amazing extras. However, as I said before, I don't think this is a movie that needs a lot of extras, and the film alone is well worth the very reasonable price.

Jake Mohlman.

Buy Airplane! (1980) Now

Like many fans of this movie, I'd waited for this bells & whistles edition then quickly snapped it up on the first day of rerelease. Well....though it's nice to see this film again, it did come with it's lil' bit o' surprises.

The Print: Most rereleases that I've seen tend to have a newer least one that outshines the previous and doesn't make us feel we're watching an 'OK' print. This one here has a liveable, but still noticeable amount of scratches and mystery objects that appear in the frame. I was expecting a bit better considering this is the day and age of restoration. Here, they didn't seem to do much of, if anything to the print, so we're left with one that is slightly better than a good TV quality picture. Hardly a 'special edition' copy of this film.

Features: I noticed immediately when I played the film alone, that it stopped or sputtered in the framerate at times. I'd stopped counting at about five, but still managed to finish the movie fine despite these annoyances. Well, I come to find out, as others have pointed out, the ballyhoo'd special features are chopped up and mixed into the movie (you enact this in the setup menu). Well, after looking at where these special features popped up when enacted, then going back to watching the same scene with them sputtering I was seeing was exactly where these parts would normally come in. My point being....BEWARE......on some players this will cause a jittery film experiance at times if your just trying to watch it straight thru. My Apex & Koss Players refuse to play the film without these jittery spots, but my Playstation 2's both play the film normally. So just be informed, and keep this in yer back pocket. I'd took my first copy back for an exchange thinking it was defective, then got the replacement and it did the same. This is my first film of hundreds that I can only play on the the film.... what can I say that hasn't been said....unfortunately packed into a good intentioned, but rather lamely executed DVD Release. Was this an intern's project? Where's the menu for the special features to see them seperately instead of thru that grating pause so the disc can switch layers or dresses or whatever it does. Gaaaah!

But yea....AIRPLANE: 5 stars.....SHIRLEY PRESENTATION: 3

Read Best Reviews of Airplane! (1980) Here

Airplane! was recently called "One of the top ten funniest movies of all time." This is very well deserved. Airplane is a film that keeps throwing gags at us and we all keep laughing so hard that by the time we've finished the movie we have to catch our breath. A absoloutley hilarious joke comes, we laugh, we start to stop laughing, and another one comes that's even funnier than the one before it and we laugh before we can catch our breath! It takes strong comic talent for a movie to keep us laughing like that! Let's explore this classic spoof film.

Flight 209 is heading to Chicago. It's March 5th and Elaine Dickenson (Julie Hagerty) has just run away from her ex-boyfriend Ted Striker (Robert Hays). However, Ted comes home early, finds her note, and speeds to the airport to stop her before she gets on the flight and intends to change her life in Chicago. His attempts to get her back fail, so he follows her on the plane, haunted by flashbacks of his expierience in the war, where he lost most of his squadron while on a foolish attack. Bad luck takes the day when all the pilots become very ill courtesy of food-poisoning in the fish. Even more bad luck comes when passengers start getting sick for the same reason and now it's up to Ted to land the plane with the help of his ex-girlfriend, a doctor (Leslie Nielson), stewardess Randy (Lorna Patterson), a loony air-port controller by the name of McCroskey (Lloyd Bridges), and and old friend (?) from the war, Rex Cramer (Robert Stack).

It may sound serious, but not one thing is meant to be taken seriously in this unbelievably hilarious film. Every shot (yes) has something funny in it, whether it is subtle (the air-plane makes a propellor blade noise) or some very out-in-the-open ones I will not give away. Let's just say, watching this movie may be the most hilarious expierience of your life.

All the actors are right on. Delighfully acting serious amidst all the slap-stick things going on, it's pitch perfect. Robert Hays is swell as paranoid Striker, and Hagerty is good as his ex, but those who deserve special recognition are surely Leslie Nielson (Don't call me Shirley!), Lloyd bridges (Look's like I picked the wrong week to quit smoking), Robert Stack (No, that's just what they'll be expecting us to do!) and Steven Stucker as the clueless Johnny (Oh, it's a big pretty white plane with red stripes and curtains in the windows and wheels, and it looks like a big tylenol). But this an excellent cast.

The directing is handled by the now famous Zucker brothers and Abraham, whose only previous film was The Kentucky Fried Movie. The directing is very Zucker, Abrahams, Zucker, which means HILARIOUS. Knowing what they're doing, they're the ones who wrote this beautiful script!

The DVD for the film is a cut above most Paramount features, but still seriously lacking, especially for such a classic film. There's a commentary by the director's that runs out of steam after about half an hour (it's one of those commentaries where they say they're gonna talk about a certain thing and never do). The commentary was a big dissipointment for me, because I expected info on how a lot of gags got thought up. Nothing like that here. A trailer is also included, but it's very long and ruins a lot of the funniest moments by putting them along with stupid music and making the movie look very unfunny.

The presentation quality of the film is actually very good, though. The picture is not bad at all, much brighter than the mushy presentations of previous video and TV incarnations of the film. The grain has been very reduced to a minimum and the quality is very good for a 22 year old movie. The sound is a new remastered 5.1 surround that gets the job done admirably. After videos that would go from LOUD LOUD LOUD to quiet quiet quiet, this new sound is great. Well-balanced and with the music well-placed and the voices clear, you'll love the new sound (why Paramount's Friday The 13th movies are getting treated with Mono soundtracks is beyond me).

However, a complaint I hold against this DVD the most iswhere are those TV scenes? When the movie plays on TV, it includes some cool extra scenes that extend the running time and add some more laughs. They include more scenes with the little kids acting like adults and more scenes with Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Robert Hays and Julie Hagery, as well as Robert Stack and Lloyd Bridges. They are nowhere on this DVD. BIG dissipointment. I don't think Paramount quite get the point of DVD. They re supposed to be movies on disks with superior picture and sound quality as well as interesting behind the scenes features and DELETED SCENES. Anyway, that's the big thing missing on this DVD.

Airplane was followed by a sequel, Airplane 2 The Sequel which failed to keep the laughs the original had going and usually recycled stuff from the first film with new actors. Also, it missed a lot of great characters from th original. Leslie Nielson, Robert Stack, Lorna Patterson, a lot of people missing from the sequel. That movie is good fun, there are some good laughs, but the original will always be the best. Period.

Want Airplane! (1980) Discount?

i once owned this film airplane on vhs many years before the "don't call me shirley

edition" was officially released on dvd. with seven to eight minutes of footage

omitted from it(all the DISASTER humor is GONE!). the true original IS 95 minutes

in length! and made in 1980 not 1997 not 2002 not 2004 and not 2007, thats four times in a ten year copyright span. when this film is FINALLY released probably

as a directors cut print and/or as the "true original" i will finally buy a copy.

but let it be known I AM NOT FOOLED Mr. Jerry and David Zucker and Mr. Jim Abrahams


No comments:

Post a Comment