Scary Movie? Epic Movie? Scream? These parodies have nothing on Airplane! This Abraham-Zucker directed work stands as a model for all things filmic parody, lampooning any and all movie-archetypes and stereotypes of the early 80’s and even the 1970’s. Big-budget disaster movies, cheesy romances, and epic war biopics riddled the 70’s and 80’s and continue to pervade the silver screen. For these reasons Airplane has survived the proverbial test of time, but only up to a certain point. As a whole, the film’s goal of uncovering the ridiculous conventions of mainstream movies is accomplished with a distinct comedic fervor, but much of the dialogue is distinctly era-bound. For example, many allusions are made to the politicians of the time, such as Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford, and a large comedic section of the film relies on the audience having a working knowledge of Kareem-Abdul Jabbar, or a recent viewing of Saturday Night Fever.
However, these moments are almost always dominated by the purely comedic dialogue and slapstick humor throughout. From Leslie Nielsen’s deadpan delivery, to Robert Hay’s “drinking problem,” to the absurdly stereotypical jive sequences, and each character’s inability to communicate with anyone…
Rumack: This woman has to be gotten to a hospital.
Elaine Dickinson: A hospital? What is it?
Rumack: It's a big building with patients, but that's not important right now.
…allows Airplane! to rival even the most well-rehearsed comedian or many of today’s best comedic works.
While Airplane! maintains its distinctly 80’s faults, anyone who wishes to understand the comedic breadth of a true parody should turn to this film. Airplane! leaves no stone uncovered, as it digs its comedic shovel deep into the filmic heart of its, and our, time.