Movie Review: Airplane! (1980)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 1980 disaster comedy starring Robert Hays and Leslie Nielsen.

Synopsis: Traumatized ex-fighter pilot Ted Striker boards a commercial airline in an effort to save his relationship with a flight attendant. The routine flight quickly turns to a disaster, however, as the crew and most of the passengers on board the plane come down with food poisoning. The passengers’ only hope is Striker, who must overcome his fear of flying long enough to land the plane safely.


One of the best ways to judge whether or not a movie should be considered a classic film is determining how many times you can see it without getting sick of watching it. There are very few films that I can honestly say pass this test with me. However, this movie happens to be one of them.

There are quite a few movies out there that spoof other movies or movie genres. But, while there are some that are definitely worth watching, there are plenty more that are just a waste of time. This movie, in my opinion, does a great job of showing the correct blue print for a successful spoof film.

The thing I really like about this film is the way the writers chose to keep the main plot simple and even somewhat dramatic rather than trying to do something overly outrageous. This helps to keep the movie somewhat grounded and makes the many jokes, which consist of everything from sight gags to one-liners, much more enjoyable, whether it’s the plane’s captain subtly hinting he’s a pedophile or an attendant falling off a ladder while washing the plane’s windows.

Another thing that helps this movie is the long list of recognizable faces. This, ironically, is something that will prove to be a mistake with other films because the writers never seem to know how to use so much talent in such a concise amount of time. This movie, however, takes full advantage of all its stars and finds a way to get them all involved at some point during the film. The variety of actors and the mix of their comedy help make this movie as memorable as it is simply because there are so many scenes and lines that are worth repeating in your head.


Airplane! (DVD)

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Final Opinion

I’ve seen this movie more times than I can count and, again, it just doesn’t grow old. If it’s not currently in your movie library, it should be.

My Grade: A

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Updated: 11/12/2017, StevenHelmer
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DerdriuMarriner on 02/08/2022

StevenHelmer, Thank you for product lines, pretty pictures and practical information.
Leslie Nielsen is an actor I came across through vintage DVDs of the Swamp Fox series. I keep meaning to investigate his comedic career. This seems like a convincing way to start.

Would you happen to have seen Swamp Fox episodes?

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