Airplane is a timeless comedy, one where one doesn’t necessarily have to get the references in order to find it funny. The Blu-ray, a Best Buy exclusive at the time of this writing, has a good video transfer and adequate audio.
Paramount | PG – 87 min. – $19.99 | September 27, 2011 | Best Buy Exclusive
Directed by: Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker
Writer(s): Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker (written by)
Cast: Robert Hays, Julie Hagerty, Leslie Nielson, Peter Graves, Lloyd Bridges, Robert Stack
Theatrical Release Date: July 2, 1980
Features: Commentary, Long Haul Version, Theatrical Trailer
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0), Spanish (Dolby Digital Mono), Portuguese (Dolby Digital Mono)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.78
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A, B, C (unconfirmed)
THE MOVIE – 4.0/5
Plot: Ted Striker (ROBERT HAYS) is an ex-fighter pilot forced to take over the controls of a passenger airliner when the pilots and navigator (along with other passengers) become ill. He must deal with his past which cost the lives of others in his squadron as well as a recent breakup with Elaine Dickinson (JULIE HAGERTY) who is also a stewardess on the flight. He receives help on the ground from controller Steve McCrosky (LLOYD BRIDGES) and his old squad leader turned airline pilot Rex Kramer (ROBERT STACK) to talk him down and save the lives of those on board.
Airplane has often been described as one of the funniest films of all time and while I don’t often subscribe to the old “all time” arguments people make, this time I agree. Unlike most spoof films that have been released over the past 10 years (heck even in the 1990s), Airplane manages to stand the test of time. Even though it spoofs movies and ideas of the ‘70s, and in particular the disaster film Airport, it’s still funny as hell even if you don’t get the references; it also helps one scene they spoof, from Saturday Night Fever, is classic and thus still is both recognizable and laugh-out-loud hilarious.
Another thing that helps keep the film going after 30+ years (and for 30 more I’m sure), is the cast is tremendously hilarious. First, the stars Robert Hays and Julie Hagerty share some actual chemistry (more than in a good number of lame romantic comedies) and bounce their brand of serious comedy off one another; and then you have those who have passed on with Peter Graves in one of the most memorable comedic performances, Leslie Nielson whose own comedy career really began with this film, Robert Stack as the tough commander, and Lloyd Bridges as the man who quit some vice at the wrong time.
Simply put, Airplane is indeed one of the funniest films of all-time and knocks the hell out of any spoof films that have come since (not even the adequate Top Secret or Hot Shots come close).
The Blu-ray comes housed in a standard Blu-ray case with a lenticular slip cover.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 1.5/5
The features from the “Don’t Call Me Shirley” Edition DVD have been ported over including a Feature Commentary with Writers/Directors Jim Abrahams, Jerry Zucker and David Zucker and Producer Jon Davison, a Long Haul Version which plays with the movie and includes interviews, featurettes and deleted scenes and the Theatrical Trailer (HD).
A note about the Long Haul Version, for whatever reason on the DVD and now the Blu-ray, they chose not to include the individual features separate which means you have to watch the movie and wait for an icon to pop up, hit enter and then watch the feature. It’s annoying and beyond idiotic. From what I sampled, these are fairly short but there are some good stories told by Hays, the directors, and other cast members…
VIDEO – 4.0/5
Paramount has provided a solid HD transfer for Airplane. The film is presented in its original 1.78 widescreen aspect ratio and now in 1080p high-definition. The picture here isn’t exactly pristine but still looks fine with some good detail levels from the actors and background objects and colors are well balanced without looking splotchy. I did notice a couple instances of dust or dirt marks so it didn’t get a thorough clean transfer, however, I wouldn’t expect the studio to sink too much money for a budget catalogue release. As it is, it’s a good upgrade over its DVD counterpart.
AUDIO – 3.25/5
The disc contains a half decent if not docile DTS-HD Master Audio track. Obviously given when the film was made combined with what was probably a limited budget, it’s not too surprising that the audio isn’t exactly full of depth. While dialogue levels are good, most everything else is fairly flat coming from the center and front channels with only minimal use out of the rear channels. Mind you, it’s not a bad lossless track but compared with the DVD’s standard Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, I’d say it’s a wash.
OVERALL – 3.5/5
Overall, Airplane is a timeless comedy, one where one doesn’t necessarily have to get the references in order to find it funny. The Blu-ray, a Best Buy exclusive at the time of this writing, has a good video transfer and adequate audio, but the special features have much to be desired especially given the fact any featurettes or deleted scenes can only be accessed while watching the film. As it is, given the relatively low SRP ($19.99), if you can nab it for around $10, then it might be worth the upgrade.