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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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Hot Shots! Part Deux

Charlie Sheen is back as Topper Harley in Hot Shots! Part Deux. The sequel reunites Charlie Sheen, Lloyd Bridges, and Valeria Golino with writer/director Jim Abrahams. The first film was a parody of Top Gun while this film is mostly a parody of Rambo and other action heroes. Most sequels can’t live up to expectations. This sequel is no exception, but at least they embrace that fact.

Topper Harley is recruited by the CIA to rescue some hostages being held by Saddam Hussein. He’s reluctant to go because his heart is still broken after Ramada (Valeria Golino) dumped him a few months earlier. But he goes because that’s what the script requires him to do. It turns out that Ramada is on the rescue squad too, and her husband is one of the hostages. So there’s like a love triangle and funny action scenes. That’s pretty much what this movie is.

It’s funny. It’s not as funny and not as clever as the first movie, but it’s still a good follow-up. There seems to be a lot more pop culture references in this one, which really dates the film. A lot of jokes will go over your head if you never experienced the early ‘90s. Not a great sequel, but better than mediocre.

Critically Rated at 10/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Hot Shots! (film)

Jim Abrahams (Airplane!) directs this Top Gun parody starring Charlie Sheen, Cary Elwes, Lloyd Bridges, Jon Cryer, Kevin Dunn, and Valeria Golino. This was made back in the days when parody films were actually smart and clever, before it devolved into shit like Epic Movie and Vampires Suck. You have to respect the source material if you’re going to make a funny parody. You can’t just slap scenes and gags together to lengthen the film’s running time.

Hot Shots! actually has a plot. Topper Harley (Charlie Sheen) is a top Navy pilot with some daddy issues. He’s a natural pilot but is self-destructive, something that his therapist/love interest (Valeria Golino) tries to help him with. Cary Elwes plays a rival pilot feuding with Topper. His future Two and a Half Men co-star Jon Cryer also plays a fellow pilot and Kristy Swanson walks around in a bra, which is nice.

Even though this is a parody, it’s still a pretty solid film. It has a real plot, the characters actually develop, and the end result is an 83% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Compare that to the 2% and 4% rating for Epic Movie and Vampires Suck. There is a joke or a gag every few seconds and most of them are hysterical. But there is also continuity to the jokes. When Lloyd Bridges spits pudding on Kevin Dunn’s face, the pudding stays on his face until he wipes it away. There is a Chihuahua that has the unfortunate habit of getting sat on. The funniest jokes are reoccurring ones.

Charlie Sheen carries the picture. He’s kind of like a younger Leslie Nielsen: they are both comedic actors, but they aren’t really comedians. They both have a deadpan delivery while doing the absurd. Hot Shots! isn’t as funny as Airplane!, but that’s a tough act to follow.

Critically Rated at 12/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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