Airplane! (aKa Flying High!) is a 1980 parody film written/produced/directed by David Zucker (The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!, The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear, BASEketball, & Scary Movie 3/4), Jerry Zucker (Ghost, Ruthless People, Rat Race, First Knight, & Top Secret!), & Jim Abrahams (Hot Shots!, Hot Shots! Part Deux, Mafia!, Top Secret!, & Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael). It was produced by Jon Davison (Robocop 1/2, Piranha, Starship Troopers 1/2, & Top Secret!) & Hunt Lowry (Donnie Darko, Revenge, Career Opportunities, Deep Blue Sea 3, & A Time to Kill). It’s a parody of 1957’s Zero Hour! In 1982, they made a follow up called Airplane II: The Sequel. It actually won a few awards & it was nominated for several more. The budget was $3.5 million & it grossed $158 million worldwide at the box office!!!!
Ex-fighter pilot Ted Striker (played by: Robert Hays from Airplane II: The Sequel, Superhero Movie, Sharknado 2, & Iron Man TV Series) is a traumatized war veteran turned taxi driver. Because of his pathological fear of flying & “drinking problem”, he has been unable to hold a responsible job. His wartime girlfriend Elaine Dickinson (played by: Julie Hagerty from Airplane II: The Sequel, What About Bob?, Marriage Story, & U Turn), now a flight attendant, leaves him before boarding her assigned flight from Los Angeles to Chicago. Ted abandons his taxi & buys a ticket on the same flight to try to win her back. However, she still continues to reject him during the flight. After the in-flight meal is served, several of the passengers & the flight crew fall ill including Captain Oveur (played by: Peter Graves from House on Haunted Hill, Airplane II: The Sequel, Men in Black II, & 7th Heaven). Passenger Dr. Rumack (played by: Leslie Nielsen from The Naked Gun franchise, Police Squad, Creepshow, & Prom Night) discovers that the fish served onboard caused food poisoning. With the flight crew incapacitated which includes Roger Murdock (played by: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar from The Stand, Tales from the Darkside, Fletch, & NBA). Elaine contacts the Chicago control tower for help & she is instructed by tower supervisor Steve McCroskey (played by: Lloyd Bridges from Mafia!, Airplane II: The Sequel, Hot Shots! 1/2, & Joe Versus the Volcano) to activate the plane’s autopilot which is a large inflatable pilot doll named “Otto”. It will not be able to land the plane. Elaine & Dr. Rumack convince Ted to take the controls. When Steve learns that Ted is piloting, he contacts Ted’s former commanding officer Rex Kramer (played by: Robert Stack from Unsolved Mysteries, Beavis and Butt-Head Do America, Caddyshack II, & 1941). Ted becomes troubled when Rex starts giving instructions & stresses out from flashbacks to the war. As the plane nears Chicago, the weather worsens which makes it difficult to land. Can Ted pull this off & save everyone from disaster? Or Will his past come back to haunt until everything happens again????
I’ve seen Airplane countless times over the years & I still laugh out loud every time. It’s one of the funniest movies ever made. Yeah, some of the material is really outdated now but most of it still works when it comes to these days. It’s one of the best comedy scripts ever put together & the whole cast takes advantage of the hilarious dialogue they had to work with on here. The Kareem Abdul-Jabbar interrogation scene always cracks me up. For a parody film, the cast is very impressive for Airplane. Robert Hays, Julie Hagerty, Peter Graves, Leslie Nielsen, Lloyd Bridges, & Robert Stack all shine in this. This group has great chemistry & there’s not a dull moment in this feature. Plus it has cameos from familiar faces like James Hong (Big Trouble in Little China), Jonathan Banks (Breaking Bad), Barbara Billingsley(Leave it to Beaver), & Jimmie Walker (Good Times). This is a unique project because most of the main actors weren’t even comedians & they played it straight so it made it even more funny during their ridiculous moments. It’s loaded with classic quotes, these lines never get old. The replay value is beyond strong, I think this one gets even better with every revisit. If you have never seen this one before, do yourself a favor & check it out ASAP! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Paramount Pictures! This 1080p (1.78:1) transfer is from a brand new 4K remaster supervised by directors Jim Abrahams, Jerry Zucker, & David Zucker. I own the previous blu ray release & this re-release is a huge upgrade compared to that one. This is the best Airplane has ever looked on home video. It has a few different audio options which includes English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono, German: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono, & Music: Dolby Digital 2.0 on this release. The audio here is definitely an improvement from before. All of the classic dialogue is crystal clear, the silly moments has a nice boost to it, & the music is elevated here. It has English, English SDH, French, German, & Japanese subtitles. Both picture & sound are boosted in this newer Paramount Presents line release!!!!
Let’s discuss the special features from Paramount Pictures! It has the original “Audio Commentary” with directors Jim Abrahams, Jerry Zucker, David Zucker, & producer producer Jon Davison. They go over how it got made. They chat about the script, the cast, & their experience on it. They cover some of the same stuff that’s on the brand new extras below. They mention that they have never seen the sequel. It’s fun a track that’s full of information about the feature & production. It has the brand new “Filmmaker Focus: Jim Abrahams, Jerry Zucker, and David Zucker on Airplane!” which is almost 9 minutes. It has interviews with the directors. They chat about Airplane & how it’s lasted all these years. They joke that they never had a back up plan if this didn’t work. They talk about a few of their favorite scenes. They go over the cast & they mention they went for actors not comedians for this comedy. They say Peter Graves hated the script at first but he agreed to do it after meeting them. They point some of the more serious moments & motivations of Airplane. “Q&A With the Directors of Airplane!” is brand new & it’s almost 35 minutes. It’s from January 10th at Egyptian Theater, Hollywood hosted by Grant Monninger. It features directors Jim Abrahams, Jerry Zucker, & David Zucker. They chat about how Airplane got started & their inspirations for it. They go over their writing process for it a little bit. They talk about some scenes & how they put it together. They joke about doing a film with 3 directors. They say they were turned down by everyone until they met with Paramount for it. They mention that you could get away with more stuff back then. They go over the cast mainly Peter Graves & Leslie Nielsen. They tell some stories & what it was like working with them. They discuss previewing & editing the feature to everything right for the laughs. They tell a hilarious story about a big mess up during their premiere & their different reactions on the disastrous situation. They answer questions from the crowd. It has a brand new “Isolated Score” track which features the great music of this comedy, I loved the Jaws reference at the beginning. It also includes a really cool slipcover that folds out to the original poster & a clear case with additional photos. I really liked the unique packaging for this blu ray. This is from the brand new Paramount Presents line. Paramount released a 40th anniversary steelbook also for this. It’s available everywhere right now, CHECK IT OUT!!!!