While no classic and overall an unsuccessful takeoff on "Airplane", I'll admit that "Soul Plane" did possess more laughs than I'd expected, largely due to the fact that the movie takes not taking itself seriously very seriously. The film focuses on Nashawn Wade (Kevin Hart), a decent guy with good intentions who's tried to start several businesses with little success. After a toilet incident onboard a Worldwide Airlines, Wade becomes an unfortunate spectator to his puppy's tragic demise when a cargo bay is opened and his dog is sucked out.
After a $100m payout from the airlines after the trial, Wade stars Nashawn Wade Airlines (NWA), which will cater to an African American crowd. The rest of the movie follows the airlines as it tries to scramble together to get the first flight (their motto: "We fly. We party. We land.") off the ground. Going out of the new Malcolm X terminal at LAX, we're introduced to the very high pilot (Snoop Dogg), a white family who finds themselves onboard (Tom Arnold plays the father, while "Punk'd" kid Ryan Pinkston plays the son and Arielle Kebbel and Missi Pyle play the daughter and potential wife), trash-talking security guards, flirty stewardesses, Wade's troublemaking friend (Method Man) and Wade's ex-girlfriend, Giselle (K.D. Aubert), who he tries to win back.
The film's assortment of bathroom jokes and crude laughs hit on occasion and there's a few sight gags (the plane has hydraulics and jumps down the runway; when it lands in NYC - not in the intended place - we see that it has flashy rims; the flight starts off with a safety music video parodying "Survivor" by Destiny's Child) that work well enough to get some cheap laughs. While the film's gags occasionally surprised me with a pretty decent laugh, its stereotypes become tired and stale.
The performances are adequate, with Hart providing decent straightforward effort in the midst of the over-the-topness going on around him. Snoop Dogg plays Snoop Dogg with a pilot outfit, while Method Man and Tom Arnold provide average support. Ryan Pinkston gets a lot of laughs in his few scenes.
A bad taste comedy that hits the mark on occasion, "Soul Plane" would have been better had it actually aimed a little higher and brought its humor out of the toilet a little more often. The unrated version offers a few minutes of additional footage, but not having seen the film theatrically, I'm unsure what the footage differences are.
VIDEO: MGM presents "Soul Plane" in 1.85:1 anamorphic wdiescreen. The picture quality remains quite good. While some stretches appear slightly softer than others, the majority of the film appears crisp and well-defined, especially some of the sequences in the club on the plane. Complaints include a few minor instances of compression artifacts and a little bit of shimmering, but the print remained in excellent shape, with no instances of wear. The film's flashy color palette remained bright and well-saturated, with strong tones and no problems.
SOUND: MGM presents "Soul Plane" in Dolby Digital 5.1. The film's soundtrack mainly focuses on the hip-hop soundtrack, which brings hefty helpings of strong bass. Surrounds do kick in to a surprising degree, given the material: not only do the rears provide some reinforcement for the music, but they also offer occasional sound effects. Dialogue and sound effects remained crisp and clear.
EXTRAS: The main supplement is an audio commentary with director Jessy Terrero and actors Kevin Hart, Tom Arnold, Gary Anthony Williams and Godfrey. "Boarding Pass" is a 25-minute "making of" documentary that offers interviews and behind-the-scenes snippets. We also get a brief featurette on the director, a couple of minutes of fairly unfunny outtakes, 4 deleted scenes, the theatrical trailer, the entire "Survivor" music video parody, a photo gallery and a promo for the upcoming "Def Jam: Fight For NY" video game.
Final Thoughts: "Soul Plane" isn't very good, but it's better than I expected, with the occasional laughs amidst the low-altitude stuff. MGM's DVD edition provides good audio/video quality and a solid amount of supplements. Maybe worth a rental consideration for those interested.