Fourscore and seven spoofs ago, our forefathers of comedy climbed a mountain… And on top of that mountain they found a burning bush, and they were like “Somebody throw water on that hooker, bitch is on fire!” and it was good… And that burning bush was like “Make fun of shit using ironic parody.” So it was written, so let it be pun.
Airplane! Follows Robert Hays as Ted Striker, a former pilot afraid to take to post-war skies, as he chases his foxy flight attendant, Julie Hagerty (as Elaine) onto a plane in the hopes of reigniting their former flame. Will food poisoning take Ted and the crew down? Will Elaine let Ted back into the Mile High Club of her heart? Will Kanye West ever scream out anyone’s name other than Kanye West during sex? No, the answer to that last one is no.
Airplane! is the Godfather of the satirical spoof genre and was crowned when the Library of Congress inducted it into the National Film Registry last year along with 24 other movies deemed culturally, historically or aesthetically significant. If you don’t get a Boeing Boner doing lines of cinema crack off dat ass then you’re either dead or a hipster. The humor in this bonanza of badassery is slapstick at its finest and features a heavy-hitting cast of comedic kingpins. With Leslie Nielsen, Robert Stack, Peter Graves, and Lloyd Bridges, the casting took fish-out-of-genre actors and allowed them to parody themselves (and their previous work), making their sight gags, ridiculous dialogue, and deadpan acting push Airplane! right over the unexpected edge into genius.
Add onto that cameos by Kareem Abdul Jabbar (as co-pilot Murdock), Maureen McGovern as a nun, Ethel Merman as a soldier (who thinks he’s Ethel Merman) and Al White as a Jive Dude, this national treasure (literally) has had the backbone to stand the test of time and is often imitated but never duplicated. Unlike that guy who spent $100,000 dollars to look like Justin Bieber and ended up looking like what happens when cousins love cousins.
Most of Airplane!’s comedy has stayed remarkably relevant throughout the years but it just isn’t as fresh as other spoofs of the time, like Ghostbusters, still are. There’s MAJESTIC gloriousness in the “Who’s on first” cockpit shenanigans, Leslie Nielson’s “Don’t call me Shirley” (which turned into a trademark bit for him) and the autopilot literally getting a blow job. Most of the humor still hits the funny bone *slow wink* in all the right places, but the genre milestone just doesn’t work as well as it did in 1980; though Airplane!’s an absolutely must-have, must-own for the nostalgia factor alone.
This classic American hit fists you like a comedic puppet and waves you around like a lighter at a U2 concert. Two slapstick nipples way, way up.
Take a Drink: for every pun, gag, spoof, and slapstick shenanigans.
Do a Shot: whenever you catch a special effects gaffe. Hint: Crew in the background and/or wires on the cast.
Take a Drink: every time you see or hear about the automated pilot.
Take a Drink: for each flashback and/or voiceover.
Shotgun a Beer: when that plane comes in hot like the Fourth of July.