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Airplane!

Airplane! is it. It’s the one comedy that everybody should see before they die. It is beyond a mere comedy. It is nonstop absurdity. Practically every single line of dialog is a joke. Almost every shot has a gag. The film premiered in 1980 and is still being quoted regularly. It had a tremendous impact on Hollywood and pop culture in general. The response is always the same whenever people find out that somebody hasn’t seen the movie: they all say, “Surely, you must be joking.” The unlucky chap doesn’t know that he is being called Shirley.

Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, and Jerry Zucker all wrote and directed the film. Robert Hays stars as Ted Striker, a former war pilot with a drinking problem, and he’s forced to fly a commercial airliner when the flight crew gets food poisoning. He’s trying to reconcile with his ex-girlfriend Elaine (played by Julie Hagerty), who happens to be a stewardess on the flight. Leslie Nielsen play Dr. Rumack in the role that turned him into a comedic genius. Lloyd Bridges has a role as a flight tower supervisor tasked with guiding the plane home safely, and he picked a hell of a week to quit drinking.

Some of the jokes are dated and the punchlines have been lost to time. I doubt anybody under the age of twenty will get half the jokes, but that doesn’t stop the film from being hilarious. Good comedy is timeless and that’s why Airplane! is still relevant today. Airplane! is a good personality test. I wouldn’t trust anybody who doesn’t appreciate this movie.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Police Squad! (TV show)

Police Squad! was a 1983 TV comedy series starring Leslie Nielsen as Detective Frank Drebin. It only lasted six episodes before it was cancelled, but it become a cult classic and also spawned the Naked Gun film trilogy. Police Squad! is a comedy in every sense of the word. It works because of Leslie Nielsen’s deadpan delivery, even during the midst of the absolute absurd. David Zucker, Jerry Zucker, and Jim Abrahams created this show, which is a good sign, because they are the comedic masterminds behind Airplane! If you’re a fan of Airplane!, you’re a fan of this show.

The Naked Gun movies and Police Squad are very similar. The movies reuse a lot of the same jokes, and they both have the same style of humor. Some of the same characters show up in both, but they casted a few different actors. For instance, Alan North and Peter Lupus played Captain Ed Hocken and Officer Nordberg in the show, but they were replaced by George Kennedy and O.J. Simpson in the films.

This show was ahead of its time. It was too smart for TV. Audiences didn’t know how to respond to it, and the network didn’t know how to advertise it. So it got cancelled. I will never understand how shows like Police Squad!, Firefly, and Freaks and Geeks get cancelled during the first season, but Jersey Shore gets a six-season runtime.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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