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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Cindy Prascik's Retro-Review: Airplane!

Dearest Blog: Yesterday it was off to Flashback Cinema at Marquee Cinemas to revist the Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker classic Airplane! on the big screen.

Here there be spoilers.

It's been 37 years since Airplane! originally blazed its hilarious trail through the cinema. If you're thinking surely I can't be serious, well, I am serious...and don't call me Shirley. That line is one of dozens of iconic Airplane! bits that have become so ubiquitous one might be forgiven for failing to credit the picture for its many contributions to our everyday lexicon. In 1980, the brilliant writing/directing team of David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and Jerry Zucker birthed a comedy masterpiece that was like nothing anyone had ever seen before. Well-regarded dramatic actors play it straight with silly dialogue and ridiculous scenarios. Leslie Nielson, for whom Airplane! launched a second career as a comedy staple, delivers deceptively postive updates deadpan, with a Pinocchio-style growing nose. Our leading man, the handsome Robert Hays, has a "drinking problem" that consists entirely of his wearing the contents of his glass. In a genius piece of casting, Barbara Billingsly (a.k.a. June Cleaver) translates "jive" for a stewardess having difficulty communicating with a pair of travelers. In these more aware times, there are a couple small things that feel a bit tone deaf, but even today that's a small quibble with a groundbreaking comedy that remains one of the funniest movies ever made.

Airplane clocks in at 88 minutes and is rated PG for some language, comic violence, and brief nudity.

My common complaint with comedies, and the reason I seldom pay to see them at the cinema, is that you sit through a two hour movie only to realize you've already seen all the funny parts in a two-minute trailer. Nearly four decades later, Airplane! proves the exception to that rule, a picture that is laugh-out-loud funny from beginning to end, no matter how many times you've seen it.

Of a possible nine Weasleys, Airplane! gets nine. It's an all-time classic.

Until next time...

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