Join 3,559 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Surely you can't be serious?
June 28, 2010 4:24 AM   Subscribe

“There is one line in ‘Zero Hour!’ where a stewardess says, completely seriously, ‘The life of everyone on board depends upon just one thing: finding someone back there who can not only fly this plane, but who didn’t have fish for dinner,’ ” Mr. Abrahams said. “That was the essence of the movie. We just repeated the line. We didn’t have to change a thing.”

Airplane! (known in Australia as Flying High!) turns 30

- What is it?

- It's a parody film made by the Zucker Brothers who would go on to make Police Squad, Top Secret! and the Naked Gun trilogy. But that's not important right now!

"A lot of comedies in the last 30 years have wanted to be ‘Airplane!,’ ” said Patton Oswalt.

“But most of those movies took the wrong message from ‘Airplane!’ They were gag, gag, gag, gag, where ‘Airplane!’ is really structured, driving the story along all the time."
posted by crossoverman (186 comments total) 53 users marked this as a favorite

 
i just want to tell you both good luck. we're all counting on you.
posted by usonian at 4:36 AM on June 28, 2010 [20 favorites]


roger, Roger.
posted by special-k at 4:41 AM on June 28, 2010


Looks like I picked the wrong day to quit sniffing glue.
posted by metaxa at 4:42 AM on June 28, 2010


Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit amphetamines.
posted by Ratio at 4:43 AM on June 28, 2010


Weirdly enough I went to see Airplane with my sisters, my mom and my very proper 73 year old lace-curtain Irish grandmother. Everyone loved it, including grandmom.
posted by octothorpe at 4:44 AM on June 28, 2010


Do you like gladiator movies?
posted by kaseijin at 4:50 AM on June 28, 2010


roger, Roger. What's your vector, Victor?
posted by fusinski at 4:52 AM on June 28, 2010


Airplane! vs. Zero Hour!
posted by gubo at 4:53 AM on June 28, 2010 [37 favorites]


What do you make of this?
posted by Horace Rumpole at 4:53 AM on June 28, 2010


I can make a hat, or a brooch, or a pterodactyl....
posted by Lucinda at 4:54 AM on June 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


OK boys, let's take some pictures.
posted by chavenet at 4:55 AM on June 28, 2010


Surely you're not serious?
posted by Splunge at 4:56 AM on June 28, 2010


Airplane!'s success also stems from the fact that it's as much an homage to the conventions it skewers, as much as anything. It really is a labor of love on the part of adults, as opposed to more contemporary gag-fests that seems to be as adolescently shallow (and often mean-spirited) as possible toward the things they poke fun at.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:56 AM on June 28, 2010 [15 favorites]


Has anybody read Famous Jewish Sports Legends?
posted by gman at 4:56 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Don't call me Shirley.
posted by briank at 4:59 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


You tell your old man to drag Walton and Laimbeer up and down the court for 48 minutes
posted by DigDoug at 5:05 AM on June 28, 2010 [8 favorites]


Oh, stewardess, I speak Jive.
posted by nooneyouknow at 5:06 AM on June 28, 2010 [9 favorites]


Do you know what it's like to fall in the mud and get kicked... in the head... with an iron boot? Of course you don't, no one does. It never happens. It's a dumb question... skip it.
posted by nooneyouknow at 5:07 AM on June 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


John never spends all day quoting Airplane at home...
posted by The Ultimate Olympian at 5:11 AM on June 28, 2010 [17 favorites]


This movie must have been mind-bendingly funny the first time you saw it if you had previously sat through Zero Hour.
posted by amethysts at 5:12 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


What kind of plane is it?
posted by jeremias at 5:12 AM on June 28, 2010


Shirley this...
posted by orange swan at 5:22 AM on June 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well, it's big, and white, and looks like a giant Tylenol®!
posted by eriko at 5:22 AM on June 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


No... Feet.
posted by jontyjago at 5:22 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Nervous? First Time?
posted by TheDonF at 5:25 AM on June 28, 2010


The crew are on instruments!
posted by unSane at 5:25 AM on June 28, 2010


Okay, let's see if we can quote the entire script starting from scene 1, go:
posted by empath at 5:27 AM on June 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


I came as soon as I heard.
posted by Silvertree at 5:27 AM on June 28, 2010


It's an entirely different kind of flying, altogether!
posted by ZsigE at 5:29 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I just wanted to tell you both good luck. We're all counting on you.
posted by rusty at 5:35 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm horrible at remembering movie quotes, but I loved this movie as a kid. It was really interesting to re-watch it as an adult and see all the jokes that had flown over my head. (Get it, flown?)
posted by desjardins at 5:35 AM on June 28, 2010


The fog is getting thicker...
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:39 AM on June 28, 2010


It's an entirely different kind of flying, altogether!
posted by ZsigE


It's an entirely different kind of flying.
posted by workerant at 5:40 AM on June 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Listen Betty, don't start up with your white zone shit again.
posted by metaxa at 5:41 AM on June 28, 2010 [11 favorites]


Do you like gladiator movies?
posted by dnash at 5:42 AM on June 28, 2010


OJ did a decent job playing Detective Nordberg in the Naked Gun movies
posted by republican at 5:43 AM on June 28, 2010


*browses "Modern Sperm" in the "Whacking Material" section of the magazines*
posted by pracowity at 5:43 AM on June 28, 2010


Sorry, but my favorite line is from Police Squad:

"Cigarette?"
"Yes, I know."
posted by fungible at 5:44 AM on June 28, 2010 [7 favorites]


Don't put that finger in your ear! You don't know where that finger's been!
posted by kaibutsu at 5:45 AM on June 28, 2010


So, does anyone know why it was renamed to Flying High for Australia and New Zealand? I have wondered about this for years.
I hoped the link in the OP would explain it, but it's just a link to the original Airplane trailer, and the wikipedia article doesn't explain.
posted by Diag at 5:48 AM on June 28, 2010


No, I've been nervous lots of times
posted by DreamerFi at 5:49 AM on June 28, 2010


Joey, have you ever been in a in a Turkish prison?
posted by tzikeh at 5:54 AM on June 28, 2010


Have you ever been in a Turkish prison?
posted by WPW at 5:54 AM on June 28, 2010


Jinx!
posted by WPW at 5:55 AM on June 28, 2010


It's a completely different kind of flying altogether.
posted by Electric Dragon at 6:01 AM on June 28, 2010


"Bad news the fogs getting thicker."
posted by bondcliff at 6:02 AM on June 28, 2010


And Leon is getting LARGER!
posted by ursus_comiter at 6:03 AM on June 28, 2010 [11 favorites]


"I'm a zit. get it?"

Whoops, sorry, never mind.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 6:05 AM on June 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


And leon's getting Laaaaargerrrrr
posted by askmehow at 6:06 AM on June 28, 2010


And Leon's getting laaarger!
posted by joecacti at 6:06 AM on June 28, 2010


jinx!
posted by joecacti at 6:06 AM on June 28, 2010


Dammit!!
posted by askmehow at 6:06 AM on June 28, 2010


I like the part where the boy tries to flirt with the girl, and then she says she takes her coffee black, like her men.
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:07 AM on June 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


And Leon is getting--
preview
DANG!
posted by cavalier at 6:08 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Surely, I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue while watching gladiator movies and speaking jive, shieeeeet.
posted by empath at 6:10 AM on June 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


What a pisser.
posted by condour75 at 6:11 AM on June 28, 2010


An African or European swallow?

...wait, what?
posted by cronholio at 6:11 AM on June 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


It was a rough place - the seediest dive on the wharf. Populated with every reject and cutthroat from Bombay to Calcutta. It's worse than Detroit.
posted by gen at 6:11 AM on June 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


They bought their tickets, they knew what they were getting into. I say, let 'em crash!
posted by Electric Dragon at 6:12 AM on June 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Mayday! Mayday!
What the heck is that?
Why, that's the Russian New Year. We can have a parade and serve hot hors d'oeuvres...
posted by gen at 6:14 AM on June 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


They were gag, gag, gag, gag, where ‘Airplane!’ is really structured,

That is an excellent summary of why so many other laff-reel movies fail so badly.

Also, Jim never vomits at home!
posted by Miko at 6:16 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Not long ago, I was watching an episode of Mythbusters, where they were checking out what they referred to as the "Airplane!" myth -- namely, could someone who had never had any pilot training land a passenger plane if they were given real-time instructions by radio?

I actually started yelling at the screen. "That's not what happened in Airplane!" I shouted. "He *had* flown planes before; the problem was that he had only flown a single engine fighter and didn't have any experience with a large multi-engine jet!"

Since I have not seen that movie since it came out, I guess it made an impression on me.

Also, I apparently yell at my television. Mostly at the people in commercials, but I guess there are some exceptions.
posted by kyrademon at 6:18 AM on June 28, 2010 [7 favorites]


Behind the Jive Talkin' scene.
posted by gc at 6:18 AM on June 28, 2010 [22 favorites]


You'll be swell, you'll be great. Gonna have the whole world on a plate. Startin' here, startin' now. Honey, everything's comin' up roses.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:20 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I need the best man on this. Someone who knows that plane inside and out and won't crack under pressure.

How about Mister Rogers?
posted by gen at 6:23 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Airplane! was one of the first movies we had on Betamax. My friends and I watched it dozens of times, and always freeze-framed the gratuitous boobs shot that happens about halfway through.
posted by cell divide at 6:25 AM on June 28, 2010


Tell your old man to drag Walton and Lanier up and down the floor for 48 minutes!
posted by cmfletcher at 6:26 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


He has a... drinking problem.
posted by gjc at 6:27 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Peter Farrelly and a writing partner, Bennett Yellin, were so enamored with “Airplane!” that they contrived to get a comedy script (still unproduced) into the hands of David Zucker, who liked it enough to give them their first Hollywood writing job.

The NYTimes style guide has seen better days, hasn't it?
posted by shakespeherian at 6:28 AM on June 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


They were gag, gag, gag, gag, where ‘Airplane!’ is really structured, driving the story along all the time."

The structure, basic characters, visual style and lots of dialogue come directly from 'Zero Hour!'.*

I saw 'Zero Hour!' quite by accident recently and was astounded by how much of what I love about 'Airplane!' was already in that film.

What Zuckers essentially added was gag, gag, gag, gag to an already funny core.
posted by mazola at 6:30 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Give me Ham on five — hold the Mayo!
posted by Mister_A at 6:31 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


My mom took me to see it in the theater when I was a wee thing. It scared the crap out of me. I completely missed that it was supposed to be funny. I enjoy the comedy now, but every viewing comes with a twinge of nausea and a hint of fear.
posted by Illusory contour at 6:33 AM on June 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


Everyone needs to stop quoting this movie while I still love it.
posted by DU at 6:34 AM on June 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


Since 1998 or so I've watched Airplane! a few hours before I'm due for air travel. It just suits me fine, it turns the whole experience into a delightful comedy. Stewardesses start wearing duck shaped flotation devices... Little girls say "Like my men..." and little boys read "Nuns life"... Everything! It's a shame though that they don't ask you "smoking or non smoking" at the check-in anymore, but you can always imagine that part.

I love, love that movie. It just holds up. At first I laughed hard (oh so hard) at the "Turkish prison" and "stopped sniffing" lines and so on, but after a while I've found that other, not often quoted, gags have become my own special favourites; the catfish in the From here to Eternity scene, the way Ted's jacket returns in the Saturday Night Fever spoof, the "we're gonna need more lights on the runway" quote (a terrible joke, around the bend for sure), Rex Kramer's two pairs of sun glasses... I could go on. It's - like the New York Times article says - just such a funny and well written movie. Solid.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 6:39 AM on June 28, 2010


He's a menace to himself and everything else in the air... yes, birds too.
posted by Cookiebastard at 6:44 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


The commentary is funny, though.. where the directors continually apologize for the 2nd half of the movie, where admittedly things get a little.. slow. ;) Still funny as hell... anyone else love the part where Leslie Nielsen is doing magic tricks? One of the birds flies to the back of the plane and freaks out one of the extras, it's hilarious!
posted by ReeMonster at 6:46 AM on June 28, 2010


I just wanted to tell you both good luck. We're all counting on you.
posted by xbonesgt at 6:50 AM on June 28, 2010 [7 favorites]


You'll be swell, you'll be great! Gonna have the whole world on a plate! Startin' here, startin' now. Honey, eeeeeverything's cooooomin' up rooooosees...

War is hell.
posted by CaseyB at 6:51 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Eh. It's no Top Secret.
posted by jscalzi at 6:53 AM on June 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Sheeeee-it.

(Golly!)
posted by jquinby at 6:54 AM on June 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


What makes it magic for me is how straight everything is delivered. They know it's funny, and don't beat you over the head with it.

My favorite gag is simply the drone of the engines. Makes me laugh a bunch of times all by itself.
posted by CaseyB at 6:57 AM on June 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also, curse you, shakespeherian.
posted by CaseyB at 6:58 AM on June 28, 2010


Assume the crash position!
posted by Goofyy at 6:59 AM on June 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've got to see this movie some time; Coupling has a word for word interpretation of the post's sequence and I didn't even know it.
posted by Mitheral at 7:00 AM on June 28, 2010


My strangest Airplane! experience was watching it with my stepfather on TV some years after it came out.

He was not the most culturally plugged in guy to begin with and was particularly tone deaf when it came to satire or parody. Unless something pretty much told him, "I'm going to tell you a joke now. Here's the joke! How about that funny joke I just told you?" it just didn't seem to make it across the room to him.

And to my astonishment, he did not get that Airplane! was supposed to be funny. He kept saying things like, "oh yeah, I've seen this. That's his old commander from the war and he's going to talk him down." This at the point in the film where Stack is being rushed to the airport, and the rear projection in the back window is showing their car being attacked by Indians.

Basically he seemed to just decide that this was a straight adventure movie about an airplane in peril, and then simply filtered out anything that didn't make sense in that context. As someone who loved the movie precisely for the elements that were invisible to him, it was a really weird place to be.
posted by Naberius at 7:01 AM on June 28, 2010 [38 favorites]


Airplane!'s success also stems from the fact that it's as much an homage to the conventions it skewers, as much as anything.

It's been a long time since I've seen "Airplane", and I think I liked the shorter form "Police Squad" a little better, but Thorzdad is on the mark. One of the other great parody comedies, though perhaps not quite as quotable, is Galaxy Quest, and you see that same affection (if not more) both for the genre and for the fans of the genre.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 7:02 AM on June 28, 2010 [11 favorites]


Just yesterday, Stayin' Alive came on the radio and my entire family began gesturing to the knives in our backs. Just like we always do.
posted by jrossi4r at 7:07 AM on June 28, 2010 [23 favorites]


The difference between Airplane! and latter-day gagfest movies like Scary Movie is that Abrahams and Zucker knew that it wasn't enough to slavishly recreate the sequences from the movies they were mocking. They knew they also had to take it somewhere new, somewhere funny, like with actual jokes.
posted by wabbittwax at 7:08 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I had a strange Airplane! experience watching with a parent, too--was watching with my mom at home on Showtime (back in the early days of pay TV, it was its own set-top box with a big slider switch on top to toggle between regular TV and premium channel). I must have been around 13 or so, old enough to know when the gratuitous boob shot was coming up and young enough to have been totally horrified that I might see NAKED BOOBS while sitting next to Mom, and that she might freak out that I'd seen a movie with NAKED BOOBS in it.

So I decided to get up and go to the bathroom right before they bounced across the screen, so at least I wouldn't be in the room when it happened. Perfect plan, right? Except when I got back in the room, my mom loudly said "why did you leave? You missed the boobs!"

Yes, Airplane! taught me that 1) I was growing up, and my parents were noticing, and 2) that my mom was much more laid back than I'd suspected.
posted by LooseFilter at 7:10 AM on June 28, 2010 [23 favorites]


Also the white zone is for immediate loading and unloading of passengers only. There is no stopping in a red zone.
posted by wabbittwax at 7:10 AM on June 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've watched it about 80 gazillion times, first in the theater, then endlessly when it showed up on cable TV, then of course I bought it on VHS, Beta, and DVD. It stays funny for me, even though a lot of it is sort of "nostalgia-funny", where I'm just laughing because I remember how funny it was the first few times. Mrs. Cookiebastard had never seen it until this year, when I finally convinced her to watch it with me. I'm sure I annoyed her a little, mouthing the dialogue in sync with the movie and laughing a half-second before the jokes that I knew were coming up, but Mrs. Cookiebastard is a wonderful, loving wife and endured. She and I often have very different taste in movies, which is why I've seen Airplane! 80 gazillion times and she's seen it once, but she said it was "pretty funny sometimes".

The thing is, as usual, she was right. It is pretty funny, sometimes. There are 9000 jokes in the movie, and only about 3/4 of them work. I still don't get the spear gag, and the Girl Scout fight scene is kind of meh. But the great thing about Airplane! is that if you don't like a joke, don't worry. Another one is coming in just a second.

I wonder if my kids will like it is much as I do. Part of the genius of the movie is the casting, with Robert Stack, Lloyd Bridges, and Leslie Nielson playing screwball comedy, which was a very unusual move for of them. Now they've seen Leslie Nielson in several goofy screwball comedies. Airplane! is also much funnier if you've seen Airport, Airport '75, Airport '77, an d a whole bunch of other '70s disaster movies, which don't hold up real well these days.
posted by Cookiebastard at 7:14 AM on June 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also:

"This woman has to go to a hospital!"

"A hospital?! What is it??"

"It's a big building with patients. But that's not important right now."
posted by LooseFilter at 7:14 AM on June 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


I first saw Airplane in summer 1980 and it was the first time I had seen a theater audience in near-chaos with laughter. Woody Allen had paved the way somewhat when it came to memorable gags and silly lines in movies pretending to be serious, but Zucker/Zucker/Abrahams definitely broke some new ground with this one.
posted by crapmatic at 7:16 AM on June 28, 2010


Of course I love Airplane!... it's a movie filled with Dad Jokes.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 7:19 AM on June 28, 2010 [8 favorites]


Let us not forget "Airplane 2", which was not nearly as good and recycled a lot of the original movie's gags, but it did have Shatner!
posted by wabbittwax at 7:21 AM on June 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


I didn't know that James Doohan and Leslie Nielson studied acting together, or that Doohan was the star of Flight into Danger, the Canadian TV predecessor to Zero Hour!
posted by BrotherCaine at 7:21 AM on June 28, 2010


Chump don't want the help, chump don't get the help.
posted by steambadger at 7:24 AM on June 28, 2010


It's really the only sensible thing to do, if its done safely. Therapeutically there's no danger involved.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:27 AM on June 28, 2010


Airplane is the only movie I've actually slept through. Don't know what's wrong with me.
posted by archagon at 7:28 AM on June 28, 2010


No wonder you're upset. She's lovely. And a darling figure... supple, pouting breasts, firm thighs. It's a shame you two don't get along.
posted by zarq at 7:32 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


> Chump don't want the help, chump don't get the help.

Seeing Mrs. Cleaver bust out with "jive" opened some kind of magic, genre busting portal in my little 7 year old brain and I was never the same again.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:41 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Not long ago, I was watching an episode of Mythbusters, where they were checking out what they referred to as the "Airplane!" myth -- namely, could someone who had never had any pilot training land a passenger plane if they were given real-time instructions by radio?

Well, what did they discover? Don't keep us in suspense!
posted by Melismata at 7:43 AM on June 28, 2010


I went a long time before realizing that Leslie Nielson used to be a serious (if a bit hammy) actor. Airplane!, the Naked Gun, etc, he plays them fairly straight but he still clearly knows he is in a comedy. But you watch, say, Poseidon Adventure, and he is basically playing it the same amount of straight but with the only real difference being he knows it is a serious (well, serious-ish) movie.

“But most of those movies took the wrong message from ‘Airplane!’ They were gag, gag, gag, gag, where ‘Airplane!’ is really structured, driving the story along all the time."

...is exactly right, and is true of Top Secret and, mostly, Naked Gun as well. Spinal Tap, although unrelated and a totally different kind of film, is similar in that respect: the whole thing relies on it authenticity. Spinal Tap doesn't work if the songs aren't good. Airplane!, Top Secret, etc, don't work if there isn't a reasonably straight story to hang the gags off of.
posted by dirtdirt at 7:43 AM on June 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Shiiiiiit"


...and Scalzi is right, "Top Secret" kills.
posted by djrock3k at 7:47 AM on June 28, 2010


Hi Jack!
posted by Bonzai at 7:53 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I just learned via Wikipedia that Robert Hays is married to Cherie Currie. That's pretty fuckin' cool.
posted by jonmc at 8:06 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Seeing Mrs. Cleaver bust out with "jive"...

I didn't realize until this moment that that was her. Which explains something I've always wondered, which is why her final lines are spoken off camera and sound a little different. Probably she didn't want to be filmed swearing or that's not even her talking.
posted by DU at 8:08 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


...and Scalzi is right, "Top Secret" kills.

I know a little German....
posted by 235w103 at 8:13 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's a sale at Penny's!
posted by electroboy at 8:18 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


“I’ll tell you right now,” Peter Farrelly said, “if the Zuckers didn’t exist, there would be no Farrelly brothers.”

Huh. Take the good with the bad, I suppose..
posted by FatherDagon at 8:20 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


My parents took me to see Airplane (I was 9), and the lady next to us was appalled at the movie and huffed out when she realized it was not a sequel to Airport. That still makes me chuckle.
posted by ericost at 8:22 AM on June 28, 2010


Okay, let's see if we can quote the entire script starting from scene 1, go:

If not in order, I suspect that by the end of this thread all of the movie's lines will have been quoted.
posted by ericb at 8:36 AM on June 28, 2010


Scalzi is right, "Top Secret" kills.

In the "comedy starring a really young Val Kilmer" genre, I have to admit I prefer Real Genius, but Top Secret is certainly great as well.
posted by kmz at 8:39 AM on June 28, 2010


but Top Secret is certainly great as well

"Oh, he caught a cold last week and he's just a little hoarse."
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:48 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Airplane! vs. Zero Hour!
posted by mazola at 8:53 AM on June 28, 2010


All this, and no mention of Kentucky Fried Movie?
posted by AJaffe at 8:53 AM on June 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


It's a film of extra-ordinary magnitude, AJaffe.
posted by electroboy at 8:57 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


We need total concentwation...
posted by AJaffe at 8:59 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Club Flamingo in the Police Squad series is still one of the best delayed laughs I've ever had.
posted by zzazazz at 8:59 AM on June 28, 2010


How do we know he's not Mel Torme?
posted by Iridic at 9:03 AM on June 28, 2010


I first saw Airplane! in a theater in Rhode Island. I had a couple of hours to kill, so I went to go see it by myself.

I got a seat up front, and the theater filled in behind me. Previews rolled, the movie started... and no-one laughed.

For a while I stifled my chortles. This insanely funny stuff was happening up on the screen, comedy for which my fifteen-year-old self had been prepared by a long-time devotion to Marx Brothers movies, and the whole audience was completely silent behind me. I turned around to check that they were there a couple times; I thought maybe they'd left, or been abducted. But there they were, stone-faced, staring at the screen in... what? Horror? Dismay? Apathy? Ennui? Had the most beloved matron in the town just died, and her funeral entourage somehow ended up here? Had someone just bought them all auto-combusting puppies? What? Was this actually not funny? Was there something wrong with me for thinking this was hysterical?

I held it as long as I could, but it got to be too much, and fast. I think it was "No, I've been nervous lots of times." I guffawed. Eventually, I was howling with laughter, tears running down, doubled over, and so on.

Throughout that whole movie, I was the only one in the moderately-crowded theater laughing. The insanity of the film was compounded by the absurdity of an entire audience behind me taking it dead seriously, and I just about laughed myself into an aneurysm.

It was a valuable lesson to learn at fifteen. I strolled out of that movie theater, still giggling, with the message deeply engraved in my being. Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke.
posted by MrVisible at 9:22 AM on June 28, 2010 [33 favorites]


My wife, a professor in infectious diseases, actually wrote a question into the final exam based on the fish-related food poisoning. Something like "4 hours after eating dinner, Captain Over develops nausea, profound seats, projectile vomiting" [whatever the actual Leslie Nielson quote was] "What kind of fish was served on the airplane?"
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:22 AM on June 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


i just want to tell you both good luck. we're all counting on you.

I just wanted to tell you both good luck. We're all counting on you.

I just wanted to tell you both good luck. We're all counting on you.

I just wanted to tell you both good luck. We're all counting on you.
posted by shmegegge at 9:26 AM on June 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm more than a little proud to say that I correctly predicted both the title and the first comment in this thread.

This suggests that I'm overly familiar with both Airplane! and Metafilter. This is as it should be.
posted by quin at 9:27 AM on June 28, 2010


Also, we're out of coffee....
posted by jonmc at 9:28 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's Lieutenant Hurwitz. Severe shell-shock. Thinks he's Ethel Merman.
posted by apranica at 9:36 AM on June 28, 2010


Everyone needs to stop quoting this movie while I still love it.

No... that's just what they'll be expecting us to do!
posted by digsrus at 9:52 AM on June 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


mazola: "Airplane! vs. Zero Hour! "

Timing!
posted by graventy at 9:58 AM on June 28, 2010


Well, I'll give him another 20 minutes. But that's it!
posted by Toubab at 9:59 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


*looks directly at camera*

What a pisser.
posted by slimepuppy at 10:03 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't know where I'll be then, Doc....but I won't smell too good, that's for sure.
posted by dragstroke at 10:08 AM on June 28, 2010


"Top Secret" kills.

What phony dog poop?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:16 AM on June 28, 2010


All this, and no mention of Kentucky Fried Movie?

There's no need, because this thread comes equipped with

BIG JIM SLADE!

Big Jim, former tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs, is outfitted with various anecdotes, arguments, and an appetite for snark that will knock your socks off! Big Jim has contributed to threads throughout the Metafilter subsites, and the capital of Nebraska is Lincoln!
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:21 AM on June 28, 2010 [11 favorites]


Eh. It's no Top Secret.

"Find Him And Kill Him"
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:24 AM on June 28, 2010


This is one of my all-time favorite movies and I know way more of it by heart than I probably should, and have proudly infected my stepkids similarly. But for me the best quote will always be this one from Police Squad:

- Who are you, and how did you get in here?
- I'm a locksmith. And I'm a locksmith.
posted by Mchelly at 10:24 AM on June 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


but it did have Shatner!

The gag where Shatner is on the TV screen and then steps out from behind the door is seriously the all-time funniest sight gag ever. So damn brilliant.
posted by GuyZero at 10:25 AM on June 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


About Top Secret: I never realized this but I recently saw what has to have been the general template movie for it. Hitchcock's Torn Curtain -- a lot of the details are different, but the overall plot is the same. It made it kind of hard to take Torn Curtain seriously -- I kept mentally filling in the jokes.
posted by rusty at 10:28 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


- Who are you, and how did you get in here?
- I'm a locksmith. And I'm a locksmith.


For me, and God knows I have no idea why this should be the case, the funniest thing to ever happen on Earth is from that episode of Police Squad. The protection racket thugs had thrown a warning rock through the window of the Locksmith shop the previous day, and Leslie Nielsen shows up in the morning to open up and finds a cowboy, with an ox, next to broken window, which now reads "ocksmith."

Nielsen, with just the right degree of pique says, "Locksmith. LOCKsmith." And the dejected cowboy silently leads his ox away.

I would give somebody a Nobel prize for that alone.
posted by Naberius at 10:29 AM on June 28, 2010 [7 favorites]


Zero Hour is fine and all, but it's no THE HORROR AT 37,000 FEET, which mixes up the airplane disaster genre a little by adding two things guaranteed to make any plane crash: A spooky druid stone in the hold, which makes that 70s noise indicating spookiness so you know it's up too something, and William Shatner as a failed priest (SHATNERLOGUE!). Before you know it there's mysterious chills, brown goo that looks like chocolate pudding bubbling out all over the place, and attempted human sacrifice.

Here's Shatner regaining his faith or something and heading off to confront the forces of supernatural evil. Awesome.
posted by Artw at 10:37 AM on June 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Let us not forget "Airplane 2"

That one was Over Dunn.
posted by Artw at 10:39 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Kentucky Fried Movie

Rough and toothless!
posted by Artw at 10:39 AM on June 28, 2010


Yeah Police Squad! is my favorite as well, and much better than the Naked Gun movies. Nielsen's character in Police Squad! is a pretty good cop who exists in a ridiculous world; his character in The Naked Gun is a bumbling idiot who exists in a mostly-realistic world (with a few exceptions), and I find the former a lot more delightful.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:39 AM on June 28, 2010


Also the white zone is for immediate loading and unloading of passengers only. There is no stopping in a red zone.

We both know perfectly well what this is about. You want me to have an abortion!
posted by inigo2 at 10:39 AM on June 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


Doing some research into Airplane! a while ago, I wondered whatever happened to Johnny, the spastic air traffic control guy. Reading up on the actor, Stephen Stucker, I was saddened to see he ended up dying of AIDS in 1986.

You know this guy would have been the most awesome villains in Joss Whedon productions and the best-ever character actor in a bunch of sitcoms. Such a shame.
posted by jscott at 10:50 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's a sale at Penney's!

I love this movie.
posted by SisterHavana at 10:59 AM on June 28, 2010


Favorite line from Naked Gun:

"Sexual assault with a concrete dildo?!"
posted by Saxon Kane at 11:09 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah Police Squad! is my favorite as well, and much better than the Naked Gun movies.

Thanks, I just had it stuffed!
posted by maxwelton at 11:10 AM on June 28, 2010


That one was Over Dunn.

At the risk of mixing jokes, I don't think I'll ever get over Dunn.
posted by Spatch at 11:13 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's a film of extra-ordinary magnitude, AJaffe.

You have our gratitude.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 11:15 AM on June 28, 2010


At the risk of mixing jokes, I don't think I'll ever get over Dunn.

But can you get beyond Thunderdome?
posted by Horace Rumpole at 11:19 AM on June 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Spath - so you were over Unger and under Dunn?
posted by Artw at 11:19 AM on June 28, 2010


1)I don't think I'll ever get over Macho Grande.

2)Julie Haggerty was so hot.

3)Best Police Squad Joke: They do a fake freeze while the credits roll, and Leslie Nielson's pose is laughing with his head thrown back. As the credits roll, he's trying to swallow with his head thrown back and his mouth open. One of the hardest laughs of my life.
posted by Trochanter at 11:51 AM on June 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Let us not forget "Airplane 2"

...I'll never be over Macho Grande.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 12:11 PM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


DAMNIT! PREVIEW. "We need total concentration. This is not a charade."
posted by Ogre Lawless at 12:12 PM on June 28, 2010


First the earth cooled. And then the dinosaurs came, but they got too big and fat, so they all died and they turned into oil. And then the Arabs came...
posted by Trochanter at 12:20 PM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I watched Airplane!, Top Secret! and Kentucky Fried Movie religiously for several years of my childhood. Those movies had managed to mix deadpan and gag in a way that I have never seen successfully repeated. All the Naked Gun movies involved mugging for the camera and really obvious gags.

Apparently the German dub of Airplane! is famous in Germany for the scene with the two dudes speaking "Jive" because it is translated into a Bavarian dialect.

Also, my dad says that you don't really try on the court.
posted by molecicco at 12:26 PM on June 28, 2010


on a plane flight once, when i was in grade school, i sat next to a woman on a plane. she said that her son worked in special effects, and that he had made the inflatable copilot from the movie. i recall remarking that i hoped we had a real copilot on this plane.
posted by radiosilents at 12:41 PM on June 28, 2010


THE LOVE BOAT... SOON WE'LL BE MAKING ANOTHER RUN...
posted by zinc saucier at 12:43 PM on June 28, 2010


I've got to concentrate concentrate... concentrate...

I've got to concentrate... concentrate... concentrate...

Hello?... hello... hello...

Echo!... echo... echo...

Pinch hitting for Pedro Borbon... Manny Mota... Mota... Mota...

posted by magstheaxe at 12:47 PM on June 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


I bought the 'Don't Call Me Shirley' edition of the Airplane DVD a couple years ago. It's notable beyond the original for two things:

1) For the first time in my adult life, I cut out a 'Proof of Purchase' from a boxtop in order to get some free thingawhatzit 6-8 weeks later in the mail. That thingawhatzit is my own personal Otto Pilot, who now runs my desk whenever I'm on vacation. Probably better than I do. (Yes, his manual inflation nozzle is in the correct position. Yes, I felt pretty silly, uh, blowing him up.)

2) The movie can be paused for interview segments with various cast and crew. Whenever the two gentlemen who spoke Jive are being interviewed, their answers are translated into Jive in subtitles.
posted by dragstroke at 1:15 PM on June 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


I took my dad to see Airplane! in the theater in Fort Lauderdale right after the release in 1980. Dad was the sort of guy who definitely appreciated that sort of humor, but after 20 minutes of the film I was seriously fearing for his life- he was laughing so hard, I thought he might stroke out there in the theater. What finally convinced me that everything was going to be OK was when the shot of the inflight movie hits the screen, (which is of course fiery airplane crashes) and my Dad projectile-spit out his soda about 3 rows.

I spent the next 2 or 3 minutes on the floor of the theater laughing so hard I literally couldn't get up or breathe.
posted by pjern at 1:43 PM on June 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


@molecicco: Die unglaubbliche Reise in einem verrückten Flugzeug as it's apparently (and rather wordy) known in Deutschland.
posted by Sourisnoire at 2:02 PM on June 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


I saw an interview where Leslie Nielsen was talking about his approach to comedy. I can't find the quote, but he said something along the lines of, 'Some people say funny things and it's funny. Some people say unfunny things in a funny way and it's funny. I say unfunny things in an unfunny way, and somehow it's funny.'
posted by Dojie at 2:06 PM on June 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


"It took the doctors two hours - just to remove the smile from his face."
posted by mosk at 2:28 PM on June 28, 2010


Best use of blink in a MeFi post evar.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:36 PM on June 28, 2010


please don't call my shirley !!
posted by tm56 at 2:40 PM on June 28, 2010


"hospital...what is it?"
posted by tm56 at 2:42 PM on June 28, 2010


Top Secret! and Kentucky Fried Movie are both amazing, but I think Airplane! was the pinnacle of this kind of movie. I do happen to be a big fan of Airplane! 2, despite its questionable relationship to the original. Police Squad was also amazing, and I think only the first Naked Gun movie really managed to come close to capturing its brilliance. Fans of KFM may also like Amazon Women on the Moon, also directed by John Landis, and featuring some classic bits like "Blacks without soul" and the inspired David Allen Grier creation, Don "No Soul" Simmons.

I just find it depressing that the writers of Airplane would go on to be involved in some of the terrible modern rip-offs like Superhero Movie and the Scary Movie franchise and, in the case of David Zucker, An American Carol.
posted by Saxon Kane at 2:53 PM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


It was just a hunch, back at the office.

(Police Squad)
posted by gimonca at 3:43 PM on June 28, 2010


Shall we turn on the landing lights?
No... that just what they'll be expecting us to do.
posted by Sebmojo at 4:05 PM on June 28, 2010


Flight 2-0-9 now arriving gate 8- gate 9, gate 10...
posted by SisterHavana at 4:49 PM on June 28, 2010


*sits on face and wiggles*
posted by jonmc at 6:04 PM on June 28, 2010


Too bad David Zucker has turned into a Teabagger-type who specializes in creating neocon propaganda films that make Mallard Filmore look funny and unbiased in comparison.
posted by Rarebit Fiend at 6:44 PM on June 28, 2010


It was just a hunch, back at the office.

And here's that hunchback now, Frank!
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:52 PM on June 28, 2010


Excuse me doc, I got a plane to land.
posted by pianomover at 6:59 PM on June 28, 2010


So, does anyone know why it was renamed to Flying High for Australia and New Zealand? I have wondered about this for years.

I have read the whole thread so far and still no answer for this. Anyone?

And I think I'll have to go home and watch Flying High on DVD again tonight.
posted by damonism at 7:07 PM on June 28, 2010


Listen! Do you smell something?





Oh, sorry, wrong movie.
posted by erniepan at 8:06 PM on June 28, 2010


Have you noticed that EVERYTHING is turning 30 this year?

Anything with Joe Suzuki (aka David Leisure) can't be half bad. Yeah, even Empty Nest (RIP Richard Mulligan)!
posted by Mael Oui at 8:48 PM on June 28, 2010


So, does anyone know why it was renamed to Flying High for Australia and New Zealand? I have wondered about this for years.

I've wanted to know this for a long time and sadly my scouring of the Internet hasn't turned up any solid evidence. It got me wondering, though: why films are ever renamed at all? Especially when they're being released in countries that speak the same language.

One of my favourite films of recent years was Lucky Number Slevin, a clever film with an admittedly unattractive title. I obtained it via nefarious means because the release date here in Australia was a whole seven months behind the US. By that time, they apparently decided that the film's title was impacting its box office sales and changed it to The Wrong Man.

I wouldn't be surprised if it was a similar decision for Airplane!, based on what people in this thread have said about some cinema-goers being miffed that it wasn't actually a part of the Airport franchise and that the film wasn't released here until six months after it was in US cinemas - plenty of time for a bunch of suits to convince themselves of how they might make more money. These days they would have lost my ticket fare already in that time because I would have just found the film elsewhere.
posted by notionoriety at 9:41 PM on June 28, 2010


> Have you noticed that EVERYTHING is turning 30 this year?


I noticed that a bunch of stuff from 1980 was hitting the thirty year mark, but I didn't hear about anything else.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:44 PM on June 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Best Police Squad Joke: They do a fake freeze while the credits roll, and Leslie Nielson's pose is laughing with his head thrown back. As the credits roll, he's trying to swallow with his head thrown back and his mouth open. One of the hardest laughs of my life.

My favorite is the fake freeze-frame with a coffee pot in mid-pour, so everybody is frozen in place laughing while coffee fills the mug and overflows onto the floor.

Police Squad! was brilliant.
posted by Spatch at 10:31 PM on June 28, 2010


@molecicco: Die unglaubbliche Reise in einem verrückten Flugzeug as it's apparently (and rather wordy) known in Deutschland.

Yes! That's it!
posted by molecicco at 11:17 PM on June 28, 2010


> Have you noticed that EVERYTHING is turning 30 this year?

I noticed that a bunch of stuff from 1980 was hitting the thirty year mark, but I didn't hear about anything else.


I heard that Psycho was turning 50 this year, but maybe it's been telling everybody it's 30?
posted by crossoverman at 11:42 PM on June 28, 2010


Well, to be honest, I've never been so scared. But at least I have a husband.
posted by massless at 12:20 AM on June 29, 2010


After reading this thread I decided to watch Airplane! last night. The last time I watched it was maybe five years ago. I was curious to see if I'd still laugh at it, having seen it so many times and after reading all the best lines in this thread.

Yep. Still made me laugh. Hard.

I traveled the banks of the River of Jordan
To find where it flows to the sea...

posted by bondcliff at 7:16 AM on June 29, 2010


I just wanted to tell you both good luck. We're all counting on you.
posted by starman at 10:51 AM on July 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


« Older Robert Byrd, Respected Voice of the Senate, Dies a...  |  Today, June 28, 2010, marks th... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments