Two decades ago, there was a genre of comedy that took the world by storm. It was wacky and it was fun and it took a nostalgic touch and put a comic spin on it. It was the “parody film” and it was the genre Mel Brooks was the master of in the seventies. In the eighties, another breed of parody film came from three of the founders of the Kentucky Fried Theatre, whose film “Kentucky Fried Movie” was a surprise hit amongst moviegoers at the tail end of the seventies. At the beginning of the new decade, an idea they had for many years became a reality, it became another surprise hit, and it became “Airplane!”
Ted (Robert Hays) and Elaine (Julie Hagerty) are in the midst of ending their relationship. He promises her that things will be different, but Elaine has heard it all before and can’t deal with it anymore. She wants to go on with her life as a stewardess. Ted wants to give the relationship another try and would do anything to patch it up, including surprising her on her next flight unaware that on this particular flight, a small problem will affect the passengers and crew and their only hope for survival is the very person with flight experience that isn’t part of the crew. The person who didn’t fall for the small problem but has a drinking problem of his own. The person is Ted and thus continues the wacky flight of Trans American Airlines.
After more than twenty years after its release, this viewer expected the laughs to come once in a while and with memories that it was good at the time but not sure if I could say the same now. With that being said, I can honestly say that it is still a funny movie and that many of the puns in this movie still make me howl a little more than some of the recent fare that passes for comedy. The fun is quick and very spontaneously making fun of the Airport/Disaster movies of the seventies. There are at least five scenes in this movie that make me laugh more than ever. It’s interesting that this film was loosely based on an older movie with the same idea but a serious movie.
The film certainly paved the way for more spoofs to come, mostly from the same guys who made this movie. Today is no time for the parody film to come back, but it is amusing to look back and see that it was funny, it still is funny and maybe sometime in the future (not too near) filmmaking can go back to a fresh kind of film the way Airplane! did in the eighties.
Video: How does it look?
The transfer for “Airplane!: Don’t Call Me Shirley Edition” is about the same as the first offering, and maybe a tad bit better. The 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer is certainly about the best the movie has ever looked. Back when we all saw this movie on home video or television, the last thing in our mind was “I wonder what we’re missing in regards to the picture”? For a movie 25 years old, the quality has help up pretty well, with only minimal artifacting and a bit of softness in the picture from time to time. But again, this seems to be the same transfer used on the old disc only benefiting from the advances in technology since it came out five years ago.
Audio: How does it sound?
The remixed audio track is also the same as the prior disc, a remixed 5.1 soundtrack which is unusually loud at times. The majority of the track comes from the center and the surround channels work around the score and the last quarter of the movie. The sound quality is sharp and doesn’t have an obvious muteness that most movies from that time carry without the proper remixing. It’s certainly not up to today’s standards of clarity but it manages to spread around evenly to make for a nice track. This disc also has a French Mono track along with English subtitles.
Supplements: What are the extras?
There really needs to be some inner ring of Hell devoted to studio executives that green light these new “Special Editions” that really aren’t that special. Ok, maybe that was a bit too harsh but I’ll cut to the chase – anyone who owns this movie on DVD need not bother for this new edition. About the only thing new on this disc is the “Trivia Track” (which, is pretty informative) and it’s the supposed “Long Haul Edition” with some deleted scenes and interviews. Well, either I’m an idiot or I couldn’t find them on the disc. There are also some pretty funny animated menus and an insert that replicates the menus. The exact same commentary track is included as are some previews and the theatrical trailer. Paramount is one of the worst offenders of this “Double Dipping” and unlike their re-issue of “Titanic” earlier this year (which was certainly worth the upgrade), this one isn’t. If, however, you don’t own this disc this is the version to get but true fans will have already had this on their shelves for quite some time and there’s no need to replace it.