5 Film Collection: '80s Comedy [5 Discs] (DVD) (Boxed Set)
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This spoof of the Airport series of disaster movies relies on ridiculous sight gags, groan-inducing dialogue, and deadpan acting -- a comedy style that would be imitated for the next 20 years. Airplane! pulls out all the clichés as alcoholic pilot Ted Striker (Robert Hays), who's developed a fear of flying due to wartime trauma, boards a jumbo jet in an attempt to woo back his stewardess girlfriend (Julie Hagerty). Food poisoning decimates the passengers and crew, leaving it up to Striker to land the plane, with the help of a glue-sniffing air traffic controller (Lloyd Bridges) and Striker's vengeful former captain (Robert Stack), who must both talk him down. Along the way, we meet a clutch of stock disaster movie passengers like the guitar-strumming nun, a sick little girl, a frightened old lady, and two African-American travelers whose "jive" has to be subtitled. Leslie Nielsen portrays the plane's doctor, launching a new phase of the actor's career that carried him through the next two decades in several similarly comedic roles. The trio of directors Jim Abrahams, Jerry Zucker, and David Zucker responsible for the film would eventually go on to solo careers, but not before making Top Secret! and Ruthless People. ~ Perry Seibert, Rovi