The movie Airplane is a comedy in which a contagious illness strikes during a plane ride, and knocks out the pilots. It is a very funny movie; and it is a great movie. It was written by David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and Jerry Zucker. It is a very quick movie with a rapid fire of jokes. It stars Robert Hays, as a taxi driver. It is a very well known movie; and many of the jokes in the movie are famous and often referenced in other media.
The movie is about the ex cab driver Ted Striker. His ex-girlfriend breaks up with him and is now a stewardess. He wants to get back with her. He plans to do this by going on the flight she’s working on. The movie starts out in the airport, with someone announcing a plane leaving for a certain location. However, another announcer cuts in and says the plane goes to a different location. The two announcers get into an argument and eventually start swearing at each other. This is the beginning scene of the movie.
The movie has very fast slapstick comedy. There are many jokes; and they come very quickly. Most of the jokes are very in your face; but some of the jokes are more subtle. Most of the humor is very light and silly. For example, there is a famous line where a character says “Can you fly this plane and land it?” And the response is “Surely you can’t be serious.” And the other character responds “I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley.” The joke is obviously that “surely” sounds like the name “Shirley.” While the joke seems very childish and stupid, it is very popular. A Google search of “don’t call me Shirley” produces 3,040,000 results. The TV series “Suburgatory” has an episode called “Don’t call me Shirley”. It is a timeless gag.
The film has aged quite well, but not perfectly. There is one joke that involves two jive speaking black men. They are only able to speak jive, and cannot speak regular English. When one of them strikes ill, the stewardess come to ask what is wrong. Being that they can’t speak English, she is unable to understand. An old lady says she can speak Jive, and can communicate with the two men. She speaks Jive with them, and much of the humor from this scene actually comes from the very formal translations of the Jive in the subtitles. Much of the Jive has English words, and they are translated in a more formal manner. While this is certainly not terribly offensive, this can offend some people as some comedies do rely on racist humor, even today.
The story of the movie is very simple, and obviously just a bridge to the jokes. The character interactions, while not deep, are very cleverly written and humorous. The acting is top notch. While every character does play an established archetype, it is obviously intentional and does not come off as stereotypical.
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