Airplane! (1980) - Rotten Tomatoes

Airplane! (1980)



Critic Consensus: Though unabashedly juvenile and silly, Airplane! is nevertheless an uproarious spoof comedy full of quotable lines and slapstick gags that endure to this day.

Movie Info

This spoof of the Airport series of disaster movies relies on ridiculous sight gags, groan-inducing dialogue, and deadpan acting -- a comedy style that would be imitated for the next 20 years. Airplane! pulls out all the clichés as alcoholic pilot Ted Striker (Robert Hays), who's developed a fear of flying due to wartime trauma, boards a jumbo jet in an attempt to woo back his stewardess girlfriend (Julie Hagerty). Food poisoning decimates the passengers and crew, leaving it up to Striker to land the plane, with the help of a glue-sniffing air traffic controller (Lloyd Bridges) and Striker's vengeful former captain (Robert Stack), who must both talk him down. Along the way, we meet a clutch of stock disaster movie passengers like the guitar-strumming nun, a sick little girl, a frightened old lady, and two African-American travelers whose "jive" has to be subtitled. Leslie Nielsen portrays the plane's doctor, launching a new phase of the actor's career that carried him through the next two decades in several similarly comedic roles. The trio of directors Jim Abrahams, Jerry Zucker, and David Zucker responsible for the film would eventually go on to solo careers, but not before making Top Secret! and Ruthless People. ~ Perry Seibert, Rovimore
Rating: PG (adult situations/language, nudity)
Genre: Comedy
Directed By: , ,
Written By: Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker
In Theaters:
On DVD: Oct 24, 2000
Paramount Pictures


Robert Hays
as Ted Striker
Julie Hagerty
as Elaine Dickinson
Lloyd Bridges
as McCroskey
Leslie Nielsen
as Dr. Rumack
Peter Graves
as Capt. Oveur
Robert Stack
as Rex Kramer
Ethel Merman
as Lt. Hurwitz
Jim Abrahams
as Religious Zealot #6
Frank Ashmore
as Victor Basta
Jonathan Banks
as Gunderson
Joyce Bulifant
as Mrs. Davis
James Hong
as Japanese General
Craig Berenson
as Paul Carey
Kenneth Tobey
as Air Controller Neuba...
Lee Bryant
as Mrs. Hammen
Jimmie "J.J." Walker
as Windshield Wiper Man
Howard Jarvis
as Man in Taxi
Mae E. Campbell
as Security Lady
Ted Chapman
as Airport Steward
Norman Alexander Gib...
as First Jive Dude
Marcy Goldman
as Mrs. Geline
Gregory Itzin
as Religious Zealot #1
Michael Laurence
as Newscaster
David Leisure
as First Krishna
Barbara Mallory
as Religious Zealot #2
Nora Meerbaum
as Cocaine Lady
Mary Mercier
as Shirley
Ann Nelson
as Handing Lady
John O'Leary
as Reporter #2
Nicholas Pryor
as Mr. Hammen
Conrad Palmisano
as Religious Zealot #4
Michelle Stacy
as Young Girl with Coff...
Robert Starr
as Religious Zealot #5
Barbara Stuart
as Mrs. Kramer
William Tregoe
as Jack Kirkpatrick
Jill Whelan
as Lisa Davis
Al White
as Second Jive Dude
Jason Wingreen
as Dr. Brody
Louise Yaffe
as Mrs. Jaffe
Charlotte Zucker
as Make-Up Lady
David Zucker
as Ground Crewman #1
Jerry Zucker
as Ground Crewman #2
Herb Voland
as Air Controller Macia...
Maurice Hill
as Reporter 3
David Hollander
as Young Boy with Coffe...
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Airplane!

Critic Reviews for Airplane!

All Critics (58) | Top Critics (8)

Airplane! is a splendidly tacky, totally tasteless, completely insignificant flight, a gooney bird of a movie that looks as if it could never get off the ground and then surprises and delights with its free-spirited aerobatics.

Full Review… | June 8, 2015
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

Jim Abrahams, David Zucker and Jerry Zucker, who share both writing and directorial credits, become so desperate for laughs that the jokes descend to a much cruder level.

Full Review… | April 7, 2015
New York Daily News
Top Critic

The gags aren't exactly clever, but there are a lot of them, and the cutting finds a fast, effective tempo.

Full Review… | April 1, 2008
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

The fact that the movie doesn't work as well today as it did in 1980 in no way diminishes its importance in recent motion picture history.

Full Review… | April 1, 2008
Top Critic

From the clever Jaws take-off opening to the final, irreverent title card, laughs come thick and fast.

Full Review… | April 1, 2008
Top Critic

Psycho ground controllers (Stack and Bridges), laff-a-second pace, and bludgeoning innuendo make this the acceptable face of the locker-room satire.

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Airplane!


Its slapstick gags and jokes are essential in cinematic comedy. Airplane! offers the outrageous and unapologetic humor that transcended throughout the 1980s. 4.5/5

Eugene Bernabe
Eugene Bernabe

Super Reviewer


The 20-30 minute mark is a little rough, but everything else is comedic gold.

Liam Gadd
Liam Gadd

Super Reviewer


ZAZ team show that cinema, it's not just telling stories, but too, criative, popular, extreme funny gags, visual or not, that never will get old, it doesn't matter in what year was written or how many times was heard. Withou forget the brillant and unforgettable hilarious performance of Leslie Nielsen, 'the Oliver of Spoofs'. Fresh.

Lucas Martins
Lucas Martins

Super Reviewer

Airplane! Quotes

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– Submitted by Dutch E (2 years ago)

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