August 29, 2006

I have a new cheap DVD to enthusiastically recommend: the Airplane! “Don’t Call Me Shirley!” Edition.

This modern classic started a whole new genre of film comedy: the everything-and-the-kitchen-sink free-association goofball approach to humor. Even knowing all the jokes, rewatching the movie, a good proportion of them are still funny.

Buy this DVD

It’s surprising just how many veterans showed up — Lloyd Bridges, Peter Graves, Robert Stack, and of course Leslie Nielsen — and how only some of them got the joke. (As discussed in the commentary, Stacks says, “we are the joke.”) I knew this parodied Airport, but I had no idea that this movie was such a faithful remake of the 1957 Zero Hour!, to the point of copying dialogue and scene staging. (They bought the rights.)

This DVD version makes it all fresh again by including some really neat extras. The expanded edition runs the movie with frequent interruptions to include deleted scenes, scenes from the original ZH, and interviews with the writer/directors and a whole variety of stars. It’s like watching the film with a really enjoyable and knowledgeable buddy.

There is also a verbal commentary with the three writer/directors and an on-screen trivia track (I recommend running both at once). Surprisingly, these have material that isn’t in the extended cut, so they don’t simply repeat each other. I had no idea I’d enjoy so much sitting through the movie again not once but twice.

3 Responses  
Paul Sizer writes:  

That’s crazy, I just bought this for Jane, as she had told me it was one of her childhood faves. We just re-watched it last night and laughed our butts off!

I find it funny that this holds up so well, and yet all the genre movies it spawned (“Scary Movie”, etc.) are so focused on incredibly time sensitive jokes that they are dead in a year. Of course there are time specific jokes in AIRPLANE!, but they are well done enough that even without knowing the reference, the jokes are still, well, funny.

Joshua Macy writes:  

In Firefox, the Buy this DVD link isn’t clickable until I get to the comments page (which makes me suspect that something invisible, maybe the comments div, is covering it).

Johanna writes:  

That would be because I didn’t talk enough to give it enough bottom margin space. If you make your window really skinny, that will also fix things. :)


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