Airplane!

Critics 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.

97%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 63

89%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 291,583
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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, Rovi

Cast

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 Neubauer
Lee Bryant
as Mrs. Hammen
Jimmie "J.J." Walker
as Windshield Wiper Man
Mae E. Campbell
as Security Lady
Howard Jarvis
as Man in Taxi
Ted Chapman
as Airport Steward
Norman Alexander Gibbs
as First Jive Dude
Marcy Goldman
as Mrs. Geline
Gregory Itzin
as Religious Zealot #1
Michael Lawrence
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 E. Palmisano
as Religious Zealot #4
Michelle Stacy
as Young Girl with Coffee
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 Macias
Maurice Hill
as Reporter 3
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News & Interviews for Airplane!

Critic Reviews for Airplane!

All Critics (63) | Top Critics (11) | Fresh (61) | Rotten (2)

  • The popcorn will probably stick with you longer than this silly saga but, if you need a few belly laughs, get a boarding pass. Airplane is the ultimate take-off.

    Apr 28, 2018 | Full Review…
  • The level of humor is not always consistent, but the filmmakers have thrown almost everything in with a shotgun approach and the routines work more often than not.

    Jul 3, 2017 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Jun 8, 2015 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Apr 7, 2015 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…
  • The gags aren't exactly clever, but there are a lot of them, and the cutting finds a fast, effective tempo.

    Apr 1, 2008 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Apr 1, 2008 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Airplane!

  • Apr 15, 2018
    The sense of humor is juvenile to the point of getting unfunny and even ridiculous sometimes, with some (actually many) of the gags falling completely flat, but at least this insane parody has a lot of inspired moments and numerous delicious references that compensate for all that.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • May 10, 2015
    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 B Super Reviewer
  • Aug 06, 2014
    The 20-30 minute mark is a little rough, but everything else is comedic gold.
    Liam G Super Reviewer
  • Jul 07, 2014
    The reason for it's continued popularity is the easily quotable dialogue, and while the constant quoting of it for over 30 years may have inadvertently robbed the film of some of its comedic impact, the sophomoric absurdity always entertains me and the spoof material still works because much of what its mocking is genre cliches instead of just making references (although its worth noting that some of the reference humor here is pretty inspired).
    Alec B Super Reviewer

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