Airplane! The Movie – The Review!

Guys and Girls, I hereby officially declare that I am too stupid for Airplane!

You know, I love this movie and almost everything about it even though it has a stupid German title.

I love all the characters and their quirks. I love Captain Oveur asking a kid nasty questions and Steve McCroskey, whose drug use gets heavier by the second. I love Ted Striker with his suicide-inflicting stories and his drinking problem. I love this crazy guy in the tower who is as nuts as the situation around him (“…and Leon’s getting larger…”). I love Leslie Nielsen as the somehow crazy doctor and so on. I love to watch a spoof movie filled with characters that clash with all the other characters and the crazy-as-hell situation surrounding them. And their deadpan deliveries throughout this movie. And the fact that they are not simply idiots stumbling from one mess to another as in later Leslie Nielsen flicks.


I love so many scenes and jokes in Airplane! For example, I love the moment when the father pukes like hell, relaxes, sees his wife and starts puking again. And the jumping heart, the girl almost dying during the song, the Indian guy who wants to burn himself to death, the autopilot, the black dudes talking jive (which got Bavarian in the German version by the way), the moment when Elaine blows up the autopilot, the finale and so on. There’s too many to count.

Cutting a long plot short: I love almost everything regarding Airplane! and I consider this movie as one of the best spoof movies ever made. Period.

But despite all this there is still this little word: “almost”. That word brings me right back to the first sentence of this post/review:

I think that I am too stupid for Airplane!

Why? Because I don’t get all the jokes and funny scenes in this movie.


You know, although I have watched Airplane for so many times now there’s still a massive amount of questions and question marks floating around in my empty head. What the heck is with this horse we see for some seconds in the later part of the movie? Does this wild dog spoof anything I don’t know? What’s with all those magazines? Who is the singer in the hospital? Is there some deeper meaning with the parking announcer couple right at the beginning of Airplane!?

All questions above lead to two core “problems” which again lead to my stupidity: I lack the knowledge/context of time and culture.

The singer scene in the hospital is a lack of knowledge of time on my part. I simply don’t know who she is because this was way before my time. Moreover that singer – at least to me – is not Elvis Presley or someone similarly famous which would result in everybody knowing them since birth.

The horse scene could be very well an example of my lack of cultural knowledge. Although I am on this blog blabbering something that seems eerily similar to something called English I didn’t grow up in the US. So I have no fucking idea what the horse scene is about. Although the scene could be a spoof of something famous during that time but my guess is that’s something cultural. Just like the shit hitting the fan scene I as a child had no fucking clue about either since the German language doesn’t have a line as “the shit’s hitting the fan”.


Those problems above are not big or life-changing. Far from it. But they show me, that Airplane! didn’t age perfectly because this movie is a prime example of the main problem of spoof movies in general: spoof movies are deeply timely and cultural.

The genius of (or luck) of Airplane! is the fact that the Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker trio managed to mostly only use those movies and motifs we really know well today. Admitted, other spoof movies do that, too, but not that classy as Airplane!

Well, nothing can be perfect. Despite the problems mentioned above, Airplane! still has so many cool and funny scenes that I can overlook those problems without problems.

In short: Airplane! is a classic. I love almost everything about it. So, go watch it – even if you already have.

(By the way: could someone explain those scenes mentioned above? Thanks!)

A classic in almost every way. Spoofing never got better.


  • You need to watch AIRPORT the 70s film which it spoofs, alot of the references and injokes are explained in there.

    • Gunther Heinrich

      Thanks for the tip. Airport is already on my list of movies to watch and review.

  • Eric

    “For example, I love the moment when the father pukes like hell, relaxes, sees his wife and starts puking again.”

    The puking was not the joke. The wife’s silently thinking that he never pukes at home after coffee was the joke. It was a spoof of a coffee commercial, where the husband, who never asked for a second cup of coffee at home, would ask for a second cup in a restaurant or a friend’s house. The wife, not actually speaking but thinking to herself, would wonder why the unexpected behavior. She made her coffee with the wrong brand.

    “Who is the singer in the hospital? ”

    Ethel Merman. She played herself. She was a well known singer with a loud booming voice. The lieutenant thought he was Ethel Merman, and he did a very convincing impression, considering that it actually was Ethel Merman.

    “The horse scene…”

    I’m not sure about this one. I think it’s a joke about the sexually frustrated wife of an otherwise alpha male (the pilot) who’s a pedophile, and thus not likely to satisfy her sexually. I think it’s the same gag as when, in the control room, sho starts caressing Kramer (played by Robert Stack) when he’s being particularly manly. Horseriding is sometimes seen as a sexual outlet for sexually frustrated upper class women.

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