When I am feeling at my worst, there is no better film than Airplane! A send up of disaster films of the late Seventies (I remember seeing on TV when I was about seven or eight. Yes, I’ve shown my age) and of a movie in particular: Zero Hour!
A classic that launched ZAZ (Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker) films and shaped film humor for several decades. Any sort of screwball comedy owes Airplane! a tip of the hat. This movie has paved the way to not only a bunch of other films from them – keeping Leslie Nielsen employed up until the end with The Naked Gun series – but gave them the credit to go on to solo projects like Ghost, First Do No Harm, and First Knight, clearly not just gag-a-second comedies.
Every time I watch this film, I find something new (Did you see the lady throw her baby in the air?) to laugh at. That’s the key to the joy – every scene has so many things going on that you can’t get it all the first go-round. Brilliance. I know I am gushing about this film without bringing up Kentucky Fried Movie. I know…I know…it’s on my list of movies to watch before I die, but for now, I’m focusing on Airplane! right now.
Because of this film, I find myself watching the background events in other films which can be richly rewarding at times with other comedies. My sense of humor was shaped by this film (I still say “…and don’t call me Shirley.” if the gag can be set up right) as well as my love of movie trivia. Did you know that this movie was the launching of Leslie Nielsen’s second movie career as a comedic actor. All the big names you see were brought on because they were know as being such serious, dramatic actors…which was part of the gag! There are so many little things about the movie that makes you appreciate it even more.
What else can I say about this film? It’s a legend. It’s a lifesaver for me. Go see it, and pay attention to the guy in back when the window is opened and is sucking everything out. His eyebrows and beard were supposed to be sucked up, but the glue was too strong and he’s trying to wiggle them off.
…and don’t call me Shirley.