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Airplane!

Year: 1980
Studio: Paramount
Director: jim Abrahams/David Zucker/Jerry Zucker
Producer: Jon Davison
Writer: Jim Abrahams/David Zucker/Jerry Zucker
Cast: Robert Hays, Julie Hagerty, Peter Graves, Robert Stack, Leslie Nielsen, Lloyd Bridges, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Lorna Patterson, Steven Stucker, Jim Abrahams, Ethel Merman, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker

The Abrahams/Zucker and Israel/Proft camps pioneered the sort of comedy TV was showing in shows like Police Squad, but they've never been as good since. The sight gags and play on words come too fast and too far out of left field to be expected and you've barely finished laughing at one before the next is in full swing.

Cinematic comedy at its most furious, with too many classic scenes and lines to mention – Stack taking one pair of cool sunglasses off to reveal another; Bridges' endless declarations that it's the wrong week to give up various vices; Captain Oveur's wife having the affair with the horse; Ham on Five hold the Mayo; the exploits of the Hare Krishnas; the X ray security gate monitor; 'I am serious... and don't call me Shirley', 'Roger Roger, what's our Vector Victor?', 'Johnny, what have you got on Elaine Dickinson?'.

Graves, Nielsen and Stack (together with William Shatner in the sequel) provide much of the comic success - their deadpan, dramatic delivery is the comedy much of the time, crossing the fine line into self-ridicule (Nielsen's ability to keep a straight face after some of the things he says is funny enough alone).

Primarily satirising the Airport thrillers of the seventies, it pokes fun at every airline thriller mainstay and cliché, telling the story of a typical cross-country American plane flight where the entire crew and half the passengers are laid up with food poisoning. It's up to struggling war veteran (with the iconic drinking problem) Ted Striker (Hays) to overcome his fear of flying after losing his whole squadron over Macho Grande ('Over Macho Grande, sir?') to land the plane safely.

Problems abound, from his recent ex lover Elaine (Hagerty, in a ditzy, innocent role that heightens her comic presence) working as a stewardess on board to the various psychos on the ground trying to bring him in safely. The same formula's been tried ever since to varying degrees of success – from the very funny Naked Gun films to the woeful Scary Movie series from the Wayans' – but none have come close. Hollywood has aged thinking audiences are stupid, and nowadays this kind of comedy is too slow coming and hammered home when it does, without half the impact that Abrahams and the Zucker brothers pioneered.

Don't have any doubt. It's the funniest movie ever made.

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