Retro Family Movie Night: Airplane


Title: Airplane

Debut: 1980

Rating: PG

Starring: Robert Hayes, Julie Hagarty, Leslie Neilsen

Directed by: Jim Abrahams

Summary: An airplane crew takes ill. Surely the only person capable of landing the plane is an ex-pilot afraid to fly. But don’t call him Shirley.

What we fondly remember: What can we say? We thought it was time to introduce the kids to the comedic genius that is Leslie Neilsen. I remember laughing until I cried watching this movie. Unfortunately, I only belatedly remembered that when I did so, I was well into high school. When I was in grade school, most of its jokes would have sailed over my head. And the ones that didn’t: holy age-inappropriate humor, Batman! Let’s just say I’m not sure how Airplane received a PG rating in 1980!

What was refreshing: The simplicity of many of the jokes: the ‘don’t call me Shirley’, the visual gags…all hilarious and well received by my crew. What didn’t fly so well: the sexual inuendo (what didn’t go over their heads sat uncomfortably in the room with us) and the many references to other movies they hadn’t seen (such as From Here to Eternity).

Kids’ Review: It was mixed. On one hand, they found the physical humor very entertaining. The plane crashing through the airport window, the man mauled by the dog while no one notices, the car swerving all over the road…you get the idea. (Interesting side note: during the joke about ‘smoking or nonsmoking’, in which the character is handed a smoking ticket, Toby asked for clarification…not on what the joke meant, but on what the phrase ‘smoking or non’ meant. Ah, to be child of the non-public-smoking generation!)

Generally speaking, however, all the pausing to explain parody grew tedious…they needed a few more years to appreciate the subjects and other movies Airplane was poking fun of (though they did get the Jaws reference). And as mentioned, the sexual jokes were wildly inappropiate (we chocked up quite a few bad parent points in one night!).

My 2 cents: wait on this one until everyone can appreciate it (and not be too damaged by it!). Anyone not ready for some sexual and drug-related jokes best hold off. Otherwise, enjoy, because damn, this one’s humor stands the test of time!

Want more after the credits roll? Catch up on past reviews here!

3 thoughts on “Retro Family Movie Night: Airplane

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s