Why We Love…Airplane

Wait, seriously? We’ve never done this? But it’s brilliant. One of the best pure comedies you’ll ever see. Comedy, as a genre, seems to suffer from some kind of self-esteem issue. Since it very rarely gets nominated for big awards, and usually aren’t huge blockbusters on the Wonder Woman or Avatar level, it seems to dislike itself. It’s like it’s almost shameful to be a comedy, like jokes are porn, yes they’re enjoyed, but to be spoken of in hushed tones and averted gazes. It’s why a lot of comedy films think they have to have a purpose or a message. Basically, comedy has got too serious. I realise I’m the last person who should say this as I have said many times that the difference between a good sitcom and an amazing sitcom is the amount of depth they have. But film is different from sitcoms, even a sitcom that only lasts one six-episode series needs at least 2 hours of material (3 if on BBC). Most sitcoms want to last longer than that, they want to last long enough to be syndicated, so you have shows like The Office which have enough episodes to bingewatch for over 4 days (if you don’t sleep). Once you get to that level you need depth. But a 90 minute film? Just jokes will be fine. And this film has jokes, really, really good ones. Yes, there’s the lines which EVERYBODY knows, you could ask 20 people what their favourite line is, and you’ll get 20 different answers, the script is full of quotable dialogue, my personal favourite being this one:


Ok, remember that weird really out of place rant I went into about how comedy is too serious? Remember how long and pointless that was? It was literally minutes ago how could you forget? Well here’s the inevitable “but” to that. The film is not serious, but the characters treat it as such. This is why it works so well. Despite it just being a comedy you are fully invested into the plot because of how the characters treat it. If the characters were going around laughing and telling jokes you wouldn’t really care what’s happening, you’d probably even say the 8 words you should never say when watching a film:

I don’t care what’s happening to these people

But because of how seriously the characters treat the situation, the story works better. Hell, watch the actors performances, they’re not doing “comedic” performances, they’re all dead serious, and that’s REALLY funny. This film basically changed the careers of Leslie Nielsen and Lloyd Bridges, turning them from dramatic actors to comedy giants. Not mentioned as much is Julie Hagerty, who delivers what I believe to be the best performance of the movie, adding a vocal vulnerability to her character that a lot of people wouldn’t bother with.

She also looks almost exactly the same over 35 years later. Must be magic

So why do we love this? Because you can play it any time and you’re going to laugh. It’s the perfect “watch in case of emergency” film. Going to end this with a quote from someone else, from this, which sums it up a lot better than I ever could.

“David and Jerry Zucker’s pant-pissingly funny disaster spoof Airplane! is the standard for comedy as far as I’m concerned, and that’s a mere 88 minutes long. If you think you’re funnier than Airplane!, then not only are you wrong, but by Lemmy you’d better be able to fit a near-equal amount of gags into that amount of time. Good ones. Mel Brooks’ racism-punching western parody Blazing Saddles is 95 minutes long, and there’s about eight seconds of it that aren’t so funny you’ll rupture your spleen”

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