Written by: Scott Wance, Special to CC2K
I have a love/hate relationship with Hollywood.
It’s place that can produce heart-wrenching dramas like, Heaven’s Gate, rip-roaring classic comedies like Freddie Got Fingered, or hang-by-the-edge-of-your-seat thrillers like Legends of the Fall. And just when you think you’re going to see another great film like the high-caliber Manos: The Hands of Fate, you end up seeing a watch-checking bore of a horrible motion picture like The Shawshank Redemption. But it’s an especially sad day when film makers inflict horrendous “movies” on us like this one:
It’s bad enough that movie maker hacks can’t produce anything original or thought provoking in this day and age (I’m looking at you, Christopher Nolan), leaving us with no choice but to settle for mediocre entertainment like The Usual Suspects or L.A. Confidential. And almost like adding insult to injury, how can anyone stomach this blatant mockery of such compelling, riveting dramas like The Concorde…Airport ’79, and while ripping off Knute Rockne, All American, too?!
Seriously, Hollywood? Have you no shame?
It may very well herald the fall of western civilization when I find anyone who thinks this movie is not only good but wins awards and accolades, too! That so-called “movie critic” Roger Ebert once wrote about Airplane!, “…the reason it’s funny is frequently because it’s sophomoric, predictable, corny…” Well, he and I certainly agree about it being sophomoric and predictable. It must include characters and plot elements from everything produced in Hollywood since World War II! I mean, did the producers losers who made this piece of garbage really think audiences wouldn’t notice their stealing from every other decent movie? You might as well sit down and watch Zero Hour! instead of this unoriginal piece of crap. Now, under normal circumstances, I’d post a SPOILER ALERT warning, but 1) it’s a moot point since you’ve seen it all before in any other movie, and 2) I’m imploring everyone not see it, even under threat of death (or when you finally clear out your Netflix queue…whichever comes first).
First off, if there’s another movie that gives technology and the laws of science a worse beating, then I have yet to experience it (including some of the most awesome and realistic films like Battlefield Earth, Howard the Duck, Highlander II: The Quickening and Catwoman)! Seriously, how could they think audiences would automatically suspend their disbelief that much? It’s a jet plane, but you hear prop engines the whole time (nice job dropping the ball, Mr. Sound Editor). Even the opening scene with a plane flying back and forth through a cloudy sky – I mean, come on, no jetliner can maneuver like that! How would the plane take off at the end with all of its landing gear trashed? And what’s with that one guy drinking, popping pills and sniffing glue? If I did even just one of those as much as he does in this movie, I’d be dead!
Don’t even get me started about the phone call with Captain Oveur (Peter Graves) and the Mayo clinic – no one keeps a perfectly healthy and beating heart bouncing around their office like that! And I’m sorry, but a blow up doll is the airplane’s autopilot system? Balloons aren’t sentient nor can they move on their own or manipulate other objects (e.g., airplane controls, cigarettes, Julie Hagerty’s boobs…well, what she has of them anyway, etc.). And the worst insult of all, the plane slams into a radio tower without crashing or blowing up (and for a disco radio station, too – the humanity!)?
But, you might ask, what about the plot?
Well, it’s the order of events in the narrative, but this movie would have you think that’s not important right now! The story is a hot mess of cliché soap opera mixed with a ridiculous set of circumstances you’d find in any B-movie thriller (basically anything starring Chuck Norris). The film drags on and on about a jilted relationship between the supposed hero Ted Striker (Robert Hays) and the plane’s flight attendant Elaine Dickinson (Julie Hagerty), a subplot so cliché that it could only have been ripped off from any soap opera ever aired. Even how they met is a ridiculous and banal story that makes no sense:
And what kind of dive rathole dockside bar has a full-fledged disco floor that cost more than the rest of the place put together?
Nevertheless, Ted is an emotional wreck who can’t get over his neurotic war wounds and still pines for his estranged girlfriend Elaine, but she won’t tolerate his fragile grip on reality and psychotic habit of pouring drinks down the side of his face (which he awkwardly refers to as his “drinking problem”). And then he needs to inflict his sob story on his fellow passengers who resort to hanging, immolating or eviscerating themselves to escape his inescapable black hole of self-wallowing. Meanwhile, the plane’s crew and passengers are confronted with a mysterious food-borne illness complete with random symptoms that make no sense. Everything from fever, loss of motor control, drooling and flatulence in one poor sap, Exorcist-level vomiting in another, and a woman laying eggs out of her mouth. On top of all of this, the sole doctor on board (funny how they just assume there’s always a doctor around during a crisis) is not only clueless to what’s causing the illness, but thinks performing pelvic exams will help him figure it out (and without the dignity of a screen for privacy). Then there are the inept airport workers – Rex Kramer (Robert Stack), a cantankerous pilot with a bone to pick regarding Ted; Steve McCroskey (Lloyd Bridges), a drug-addled freak barking nonsense orders to whomever is within earshot; and whoever or whatever that guy Johnny (Stephen Stucker) is supposed to be (his grasp of reality seems tenuous at best – offering bizaar commentaries and dangerously unplugging runway lights). God forbid I ever have to fly into an airport that hired bozos like that to run things (if you want to see how real airport personnel are depicted, go watch the ever superior Die Hard 2)! And somehow, this cast of jackasses nutballs freaks has to resolve romantic tension, figure out the food sickness and land the damn plane which may or may not have mechanical problems, too? How could anyone, let alone the schmucks who wrote and filmed this trash, ever think that such a perfect storm of circumstances could happen all at once?
As if the story writing was bad enough, the dialog is convoluted and tedious. How can anyone be expected to fly planes or practice medicine when they have conversations like this:
And last but not least, the stereotypes in this movie are appalling! The film would have you believe that New Age Moonies at airports are oppressive beggars who forego their passivity and peaceful coexistence to mug passersby to collect donations, that all African Americans are automatically skilled basketball players (including a weak and unbelievable subplot about the copilot actually being a nondescript Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) or Jive-talkers (not to mention portraying a kind, old white woman as Jive-fluent…seriously?). Plus, the movie implies that Captain Oveur might be a pedophile, especially given his browsing risqué magazines at the airport and asking a small boy inappropriate questions (e.g., has he seen grown men naked, does he like gladiator movies, or how does he feel about hanging around locker rooms). And I still can’t decide if Johnny is gay or just amazingly flamboyant (the movie shamelessly never resolves this about the character).
All I can really say is if you haven’t seen this movie, then don’t! It’s pure, unadulterated crap! If it’s supposed to be a drama, then it shamelessly steals plot elements and characters from every other decent drama ever made. If it’s supposed to be a comedy, then it’s an insult to every type of person in society. If there was any justice, the world will see this “movie” as a total waste of material and the producers con-artists who cranked this thing out will never work in Hollywood again!
Wait, what? They made a sequel?!
DISCLAIMER: This website’s proprietors are evil, sadistic, poo-flinging monkeys who resorted to pointing an authentic Nazi Luger at my head while also threatening to sit me in a room with my least-favorite ex-girlfriend as coercion for writing this article. It should in no way be construed as a serious assessment of my true thoughts and feelings regarding one of my favorite movies. In addition, any spelling or grammatical mistakes are due to my caving under the pressure from the mere possibility of seeing that aforementioned ex-girlfriend again. Incidentally, if you’re short on money, I think she’s still offering a bounty to anyone who has (or can offer conclusive proof of) separating me from my genitals.