the fresh films reviews

S I N C E   1 9 9 7



Airplane! (1980)

Jim Abrahams
David Zucker
Jerry Zucker
Hjelp vi flyr!
82 minutes
Jon Davison
Jim Abrahams
David Zucker
Jerry Zucker

Cast includes:

McCroskey Lloyd Bridges
Captain Oveur Peter Graves
Elaine Julie Hagerty
Ted Striker Robert Hays
Dr. Rumack Leslie Nielsen
Kramer Robert Stack
Johnny Stephen Stucker



This is where the film comedy was revitalized, freshened up to the modern quickfire nature of television comedy shows, physical stand-up and Mad magazine humour. In the hands of the Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker-trio, it was done with the utmost skill, both when it came to writing and to execution. Having gotten fine reviews with The Kentucky Fried Movie a few years earlier, the Wisconsin group hit it big with Airplane!, giving birth to the modern film parody genre and paving the way for a crisp and hilarious combination of intellectual and utterly banal humour.

Making fun of the dead-serious and increasingly inane Airport series, the parody in Airplane! was perhaps more justified than it would ever be again in the subgenre. The film presents its childishly simple plot with characters that alternate between being surprisingly stupid and surprisingly clever, combines that with a lot of wittiness based on communicative problems, and finally spices it all up with an uncanny attention to detail - often in the form of outrageous situations occurring in the background.

Jim Abrahams and the Zucker brothers had a winning formula, but a lot of the credit must go to their casting of - and acting by - two ageing, former serious B-film actors: Leslie Nielsen and Lloyd Bridges. Stripping themselves down to ridicule, the pair revelled in their new roles, delivering comedic lines with pinpoint precision, expression and irony. They both steal every single scene they're in, providing some of the best comedy ever caught on film.

Airplane! is at its best when the limitless creativity of the Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker trio works at its most unbound and allows them to add the extra bit of flair to their new filmatic world. Such as with a couple of incidents involving the Johnny character, or their skit on the disco culture, or the triple appearance of Nielsen in the cockpit door before landing. This absurdity is a trademark for this film, showing just how delightful comedy can be when it is allowed to be unconventional. Perhaps more for this reason than any other, Airplane! will remain a comedy classic for many decades and generations to come.

Re-reviewed: Copyright 3.7.2007 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang
Original review: Copyright 24
.7.1996 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang