Flying to new heights of humor

This week’s laughter prescription

Mason Brooks, Staff Reporter

Illustration by Gabrialla Cockerell

*Trigger warning for suicidal and drug content*

As each week of quarantine blurs into the next, finding good comedies is now more important than ever. We need memorable comedies, movies that will stick in our minds. Just over 40 years old,  “Airplane!” is the epitome of memorable.

What was the last movie to make you laugh out loud? 

Directed by Jim Abrahams and the Zucker brothers, “Airplane!” has been the cornerstone of modern parodies since the ’80s. This film is somehow wonderfully witty and utterly stupid at the same time.

The film opens in a way anyone would expect a movie called “Airplane!” to open. We follow Ted and Elaine (played by Robert Hays and Julie Hagerty), a couple of estranged lovers in an airport racing towards a flight. The film seems normal, too normal. This facade begins to fade as the film’s dialogue shifts wildly into comedic foolishness.

As our characters quickly approach their flight, the film peels back another layer, revealing more of the film’s true sense of humor with pun-filled phone calls and an unfortunate taxi incident. Suddenly, an unlucky airplane crashes through a crowded terminal. This is no normal comedy.

The shenanigans have only just begun once our protagonists board the plane. Ted finds his seat and begins to explain to the people next to him the woes of his relationship and how desperately he wishes to rekindle the love he once had with his lady. 

This seemingly innocent vent backfires again and again and each unlucky listener decides that death would be better than listening to Ted’s stories. This culminates in a series of shocking suicides, proving that this film has no shame.

The movie kicks into fourth gear with the next series of comedic issues. After handing out the onboard meal, a chunk of the passengers and crew become violently ill with a variety of symptoms. The captain and the rest of the trained pilots all fall sick, leaving no one to fly the plane except the inflatable autopilot aptly named, Otto.

At this point in the movie, the audiences must indulge in the film’s finest jokes and gags. These gags range from spit-milk-out moments of shock, to roll your eyes cheese. Despite the disparity, the film remains consistently hilarious. 

One character repeatedly mistakes the word “surely,” for the name “Shirley.” Another character claims to have a “drinking problem,” which simply means that he is unable to take a drink without splashing it into his face.

At this point, panic ensues, and the passengers enter hysterics. Weapons appear out of nowhere, men, women, and children scream and run up and down the plane. The sheer insanity is enough to conjure up a giggle from even the most serious of viewers.

This film’s true stupid genius begins to take over as more and more comedic characters and gags are introduced, each one more ridiculous than the last. One character repeatedly admits to worsening drug misuse, while another unplugs the entire airport power grid. In another scene, half the passengers team up to make sure that another passenger “pulls themself together,” each having a different idea of how to do so. 

The laughter becomes constant and endless. Watching this movie becomes a game as the audience waits to see how the next joke will top the last.

“Airplane!” may not have complex characters or a plot that reinvents the wheel. It may not have groundbreaking cinematography or a budget to make Bezos blush. All that to say, this film has figured out a way to harness laughter into energy and fuel every scene with it. 

If you haven’t seen this film, grab some friends, pull up a chair, and prepare yourself for one of best comedies of all time.