DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

Airplane!, “Don’t Call Me Shirley!” Edition (1980)

Laugh-fest parody of many different movies; won't be shown on airlines

Published on September 12, 2006

Airplane!, “Don’t Call Me Shirley!” Edition (1980)
Airplane!, “Don’t Call Me Shirley!” Edition (1980)

Starring:  Robert Hays, Julie Hagerty
Studio:  Paramount
Video:  1.85:1 Widescreen
Audio:  DD 5.1, DD 2.0, French Mono
Extras:  Previews (Tommy Boy, John Wayne DVD Collection, Bad News Bears, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off); Audio Commentary; Trivia Track; Theatrical Trailer; Extended Version of the film including deleted scenes and interviews
Length:  87 minutes
Rating:  ****

Even the DVD Menu on this disc (using animations of the cartoon-style flight information commonly found in airplanes) alludes to the whimsical ride that awaits the viewer.  When the film is not spoofing major motion pictures like Jaws, Saturday Night Fever, and From Here to Eternity–to name a few–it is coming up with its own genuinely funny slapstick comedy.

The film begins at the airport (surprise, surprise!) and briefly introduces many of the passengers who will be key characters later on in the movie.  Elaine, a flight attendant on Trans America Airlines, just wrote Ted Striker a Dear John letter.  After rushing to the airport driving a taxi, he manages to catch up to her before she leaves town.  The only way he can win her back is to jump onto the plane and try to convince her she’s made a big mistake.  Due to a problem with the fish served on the plane, the crew is incapacitated and in order to save the passengers, Ted has to take over and overcome his fear of flying due to a terrible experience he’s had in the war.

The funny scenes never stop with this picture.  The plot is secondary to the gags that appear moment to moment and make you laugh out loud to some degree or the other.  The extended version of the film offers multiple commentaries which describe many of the sequences and interesting tidbits of information come from the producers and actors alike.  For those who haven’t seen the film before you’ll want to view this at a later date.  There are many classic scenes like the Hare Krishna scene with Robert Stack, the “Do you like movies about gladiators?” scene, the disco scene, the basketball scene, countless scenes in air traffic control, Ted’s drinking problem, and who can forget Otto the inflatable autopilot?  There are dozens and dozens and everyone has their favorite.

The one disappointment in this special edition is the picture quality.  It’s soft, flat and doesn’t pop out in any way.  The audio was not bad, but nothing compared to newer films–and that is somewhat expected.  Otherwise, it would be hard not to recommend this disc to anyone who’s looking for a good laugh.

– Brian Bloom
 




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