To clear the bitter taste of Billy Wilder’s Ace In The Hole out of our collective throats, we’re giving the Movie Of The Week treatment to one of the most popular comedies of all time, the 1980 spoof Airplane!, directed by David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and Jerry Zucker. These childhood friends from Wisconsin, collectively known as ZAZ, formed the Kentucky Fried Theater and enjoyed one previous successful venture into filmmaking when they wrote 1977’s uneven but frequently inspired Kentucky Fried Movie. John Landis directed that film, but with Airplane!, ZAZ took over directorial duties, and the film has a gleefulness that suggests a bunch of kids getting their first chance to play with grown-up toys.
How does Airplane! play 34 years later? Many imitators have followed. Tastes in comedy have changed. And the ’70s disaster movies Airplane! sends up—particularly the once-unavoidable Airport series—have largely been forgotten. Briefly: Airplane! is still hilarious. For thoughts on why, including a Keynote singling out one artistic choice as the source of its brilliance, a lively forum discussing its influence, and an essay suggesting that its outdated references have only made it better, tune in next week. And since we already know the comments will quickly digress into favorite scenes and quotes, here’s something to get the ball rolling. Try counting the jokes. Then try counting the different sorts of jokes. And that’s a less than three minutes of the film:
And though Airplane! is something of a blockbuster in its own right, consider this a reminder that Movie Of The Week’s “blockbuster month” doesn’t officially start until the following week. (Though there will be plenty of blockbuster-y topics to talk about, thanks to another piece of content. That’s called foreshadowing.) We’ll be looking at one key film from every decade of the blockbuster era. More specifically, we’ll be looking at these and trying to figure out what set them apart, and what makes them endure:
Upcoming Movies Of The Week:
July 7: Jaws
July 14: Top Gun
July 21: Terminator 2: Judgment Day
July 28: The 40-Year-Old Virgin