I snatched that quote because it said in one, two, three... twenty-eight words everything you need to know
I won't try to recap the plot or anything since it's pretty much just a framework-fer-gags, but...c'mon, there's no way you haven't already seen Airplane!, so that'll save us both some time. I've gotta admit that I wasn't expecting much out of this longtime favorite on Blu-ray. I was hopelessly obsessed with this movie as a kid, and just about everything I loved that much growing up makes me want to curl up and die now. That's not so much the case with Airplane!, as it turns out. If anything, I think I love it even more now. Although there were some early genre parodies like the way Attack of the Killer Tomatoes skewered '70s disaster flicks, plus there's obviously ZAZ' own Kentucky Fried Movie, the comedy in those spoofs was really hit-or-miss, and they didn't scream ahead at the same manic
Its sense of humor casts a really wide net too: pop culture riffs, cacklingly vulgar sight gags, and a whole lot of witty wordplay. Even with all the bizarre and batshit insane havoc being wreaked here, the actors never mug for the camera. Because the cast plays it completely straight -- plus guys like Robert Stack, Peter Graves, and Leslie Nielsen can actually act -- that head-on collision of the silly and the stonefaced serious still kills me however many decades later. The mission statement goes something like "never be not funny", lobbing out four or five gags a minute. If exposition is being heaped out, there's something ridiculous going on in the background to score a laugh. If you don't crack a smile at whatever the joke of the moment is, the next one's never more than a few seconds off. The jabs at pop culture aren't too dated: only a few fleeting references to some '70s coffee ads really creak and groan, and even stuff like the skewering of Saturday Night Fever still wind up feeling fun. Doesn't hurt that I'm better equipped now to appreciate stuff like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar being pestered about botching defense and only bothering to try during the playoffs since I know incrementally more about basketball now than I did when I was in 5th grade and watching Airplane! over and over and over and over. Seeing Robert Stack beat the ever-loving shit out of the nutjobs in the airport pestering him for donations is totally a wish-fulfillment fantasy for me too these days. Airplane! is like a fine wine! Better with age. Plus it has tits.
As things stand right now, at least, Airplane! is being sold exclusively at Best Buy. There's a sticker on the cover saying so and everything! Although that does mean you'll have to leave your dark, dank apartment to drive to a store or at least pony up for shipping from bestbuy.com, it's worth it. The asking price is all of $14.99 as I write this, and that seems inline with what newly-issued catalog titles are going for these days. Airplane! holds up a whole helluva lot better than I waltzed in expecting, it's gotten a pretty solid spit-and-polish on Blu-ray, and there are several hours of extras to boot. I think DVD Talk has a rating for things like that too: Highly Recommended.
Shameful confession! I never got around to grabbing Airplane! on DVD, so I can't do any direct comparisons between either of those older releases and this shiny new Blu-ray disc. On the other hand, there are snippets from the movie in some of the standard-def extras that probably mirror the creaky, old DVD from 2000, so if you wanna see how this high-def version of Airplane! stacks up, then...drum roll!...
You don't even have to pop those screengrabs open to full-size to see how much punchier and more vivid the colors are versus that sickly, sepia-tinged DVD from a decade back. The palette is pretty drab early on in this Blu-ray disc too, but it roars to life shortly after the titles are all out of the way. Detail and clarity are kinda shockingly great when the camera's closed in tightly, settling for something more-ordinary-but-totally-okay otherwise. So, yeah, Airplane! is generally kinda soft and grainy like you'd probably expect for a really low budget studio flick from the class of 1980, but all that comes through as well as can be hoped for on Blu-ray. It doesn't look distractingly filtered or anything, there's not much in the way of dust or damage, and the compression never stumbles over that gritty, totally filmic texture. Not something you'd yank off the shelf to show off your 65", ISF-calibrated home theater rig or whatever, but...yeah, I'm happy with it.
The AVC encode for Airplane! gets to stretch its legs across both layers of this BD-50 disc. The aspect ratio has been opened up a few extra scanlines to an aspect ratio of 1.78:1.
Hey, another remix! Purists might make a sad, frowny face that the original mono track isn't anywhere on here, but this 24-bit, 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio remix
Monaural Dolby Digital dubs are dished out in French, Spanish, and Portuguese. The list of subtitles includes streams in English (traditional and SDH), French, Spanish, and Portuguese.
Paramount really didn't cheap out when hammering out this Blu-ray release of Airplane!, lovingly crafting high-res animated menus with airplane safety pamphlet people acting out scenes from the flick, and they even tossed on a slipcover with lenticular animation.
The Final Word
What is surely one of the greatest comedies in the annals of film history has finally made its way to Blu-ray, and...yeah, I know, don't call you "Shirley". If you're done rolling your eyes or whatever, I'll say one more time that this shiny new Blu-ray release of Airplane! looks pretty great, there's a hefty stack of extras to tear into, and the asking price of $14.99 seems totally reasonable to me. Highly Recommended.