I needed something light-hearted at the end of the day to help release some mysteriously acquired stress, and this helped. It is one of the most bizarre comedies I’ve seen in a while, and I’m not sure why it’s praised as one of the all time funniest movies. It had its moments, but still fell captive to cheap laughs (offensive material) for a small portion of the film.
Don’t let the PG rating fool you, not only is parental guidance more than suggested, I wouldn’t even recommend it for parents,
The one thing Airplane did have going for it, and did remarkably well, was constant play on words. I loved the random actions that would result from a statement that was taken literally. Here are a few great examples:
Rumack: Can you fly this plane, and land it?
Ted Striker: Surely you can't be serious.
Rumack: I am serious... and don't call me Shirley.
Elaine Dickinson: You got a letter from headquarters this morning.
Ted Striker: What is it?
Elaine Dickinson: It's a big building where generals meet, but that's not important.
Rumack: Captain, how soon can you land?
Captain Oveur: I can't tell.
Rumack: You can tell me. I'm a doctor.
Captain Oveur: No. I mean I'm just not sure.
Rumack: Well, can't you take a guess?
Captain Oveur: Well, not for another two hours.
Rumack: You can't take a guess for another two hours?
Ted Striker: I flew single engine fighters in the Air Force, but this plane has four engines. It's an entirely different kind of flying, altogether.In addition to the play on words, Johnny was by far my favorite character (with Dr. Rumack coming in a close second). While not always working with a literal play on words, he would take lines out of context and exaggerate them for some extremely funny moments:
Rumack, Randy: [together] It's an entirely different kind of flying.
Striped controller: Bad news. The fog's getting thicker.
Johnny: [jumps to an overweight controller and shakes his gut] And Leon is getting laaaaarrrrrger.
Reporter: What kind of plane is it?
Johnny: Oh, it's a big pretty white plane with red stripes, curtains in the windows and wheels and it looks like a big Tylenol.
Steve McCroskey: Johnny, what can you make out of this?
[Hands him the weather briefing]
Johnny: This? Why, I can make a hat or a brooch or a pterodactyl...
Johnny: The tower, the tower! Rapunzel, Rapunzel!
Johnny: Auntie Em, Uncle Henry, Toto! It's a twister! It's a twister!
Rex Kramer: All right, I'll need three men up at the tower. You, Neubauer. You, Macias.
Johnny: Me, John, big tree!
Ok, so it sounds like I enjoyed it more than I mentioned earlier, but the total funny scenes probably took up 70% of the movie, while the rest was either boring or offensive. As with most comedies, everyone finds different things funny, offensive, and boring, so if you’re pleased for half the film, the writers are probably pleased.
If you’re looking for great comedy go find an Abbott and Costello or Martin and Lewis film.