IMDB Rating: 4.5 (275 votes)
Director: David Zucker, Zucker, Jerry
Starring: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Frank Ashmore, Jonathan Banks, Craig Berenson, Barbara Billingsley
Summary: The quintessential movie spoof that spawned an entire genre of parody films, the original "Airplane!" still holds up as one of the brightest comedic gems of the '80s, not to mention of cinema itself (it ranked in the top 5 of "Entertainment Weekly"'s list of the 100 funniest movies ever made). The humor may be low and obvious at times, but the jokes keep coming at a rapid-fire clip and its targets--primarily the lesser lights of '70s cinema, from disco films to star-studded disaster epics--are more than worthy for send-up. If you've seen even one of the overblown "Airport" movies then you know the plot: the crew of a filled-to-capacity jetliner is wiped out and it's up to a plucky stewardess and a shell-shocked fighter pilot to land the plane. Robert Hays and Julie Hagerty are the heroes who have a history that includes a meet-cute à la "Saturday Night Fever", a surf scene right out of "From Here to Eternity", a Peace Corps trip to Africa to teach the natives the benefits of Tupperware and basketball, a war-ravaged recovery room with a G.I. who thinks he's Ethel Merman (a hilarious cameo)--and those are just the flashbacks! The jokes gleefully skirt the boundaries of bad taste (pilot Peter Graves to a juvenile cockpit visitor: "Joey, have you ever seen a grown man naked?"), with the high (low?) point being Hagerty's intimate involvement with the blow-up automatic pilot doll, but they'll have you rolling on the floor. The film launched the careers of collaborators Jim Abrahams ("Big Business"), David Zucker ("Ruthless People"), and Jerry Zucker ("Ghost"), as well as revitalized such B-movie actors as Lloyd Bridges, Peter Graves, Robert Stack, and Leslie Nielsen, who built a second career on films like this. A vital part of any video collection. "--Mark Englehart"