Pandemic Picks: Airplane!

Today’s Pandemic Pick is the classic comedy film Airplane! Surely I’m not serious… I am serious, and don’t call me Shirley. I promise that is the only time I’ll say that in this article… maybe. Airplane! is one of those films that everyone has either seen or at least knows some of the jokes from. It’s considered by many to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest, comedy films of all time. But what is it that makes it such a great comedy?

The film is the brainchild of the writing team of brothers David and Jerry Zucker and Jim Abrahams, they based the film on a real disaster movie that they had caught on late night TV called Zero Hour about the pilots of a commercial flight getting food poisoning and a ex-World War II pilot is forced to take over. Sound familiar? Because that is pretty much the exact plot of Airplane! It’s hard to imagine that there is a film out there with the same plot as this zany comedy that played it straight.

What really made the film stand out from other comedy films of the time was how the cast played everything straight, every ridiculous plot point, every insane line all was played with the utmost sincerity which made it all the funnier. The deadpan delivery of the dialogue and how each actor delivered their lines made an already funny line ten times funnier. How they managed to keep straight faces and get decent takes I will never know. The performances from the key cast members were all spot on and because each of them were primarily dramatic actors their deadpan deliveries landed even harder.

The film was really responsible for launching Leslie Nielsen’s acting career into the stratosphere, Airplane! was the first comedy film that he had done and as someone who had quite a wicked sense of humour this was surprising to me. After appearing in Airplane! Nielsen went on to have an extensive movie career appearing mostly in comedies, he would work with Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker several more times appearing in the hugely successful and hilarious The Naked Gun films.

Leslie Nielsen in a career defining performance

Airplane! is a film that I can sit down and watch no matter what, it’s relatively short clocking in at 88 minutes but it’s jam packed with jokes that start from the very beginning and don’t let up even until after the end credits have finished. Even the end credits have jokes in them! So, if you’re feeling a little down and need cheering up this wonderfully zany, wacky, madcap, outrageous, insane, hilarious comedy film will have you laughing hysterically from start to finish and long after the film is over when someone says the word “Surely” in a sentence to you.

Airplane! is available for free on Showtime in the US and with the NOW TV Movies Pass in the UK. It is also available to rent and buy on other sites.

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