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Airplane!

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Airplane! is an American movie released in 1980, produced by the Zucker brothers[?], and starring Leslie Nielsen. It is the second of a number of movies produced and directed by the duo (the first being The Kentucky Fried Movie[?]).

Airplane! is one of the most famous and acclaimed examples a sub-genre of similar gag-based comedies that defy logic, reason, and the "fourth wall" to produce laughter in any way possible, with comic references to other famous 'straight' disaster films such as 'Airport'. When this type of comedy works, it is exceptional (the animated cartoons of Tex Avery were a great influence), though it can be difficult for filmmakers to achieve success when working on a movie that denies characterization and even plot development. Other successful movies of this type include Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles and the "Road movies" of Bing Crosby. More recent movies of this sort include Hot Shots[?], The Naked Gun,, the Austin Powers series and Scary Movie[?]. (A number of other films in this genre were less successful, including Loaded Weapon, The Big Bus, and Spy Hard.)

In some foreign release (including Australia), Airplane! was entitled Flying High. The film is regularly shown on television, with many devotees rewatching the film, in the process catching other 'gags' that they didn't notice, due to the sheer number of sight, sound and dialogue gags (often overlapping), in earlier viewings.

Surprisingly, Airplane! does have a plot, though, derived from the 1954 John Wayne movie The High and the Mighty[?]. The plot is that when the pilots of a commercial airliner get sick, an ex-fighter pilot (Robert Hayes[?]) must conquer his fear of flying to direct the plane to its destination. Hayes' girlfriend (Julie Haggerty[?]) is a stewardess; Neilsen portrays a doctor on board. His catchphrase in the film became famous worldwide. In response to the question from a passenger "Surely you can't be serious?" Neilson's character would respond: 'I am, and don't call me Shirley'.

Some critics have claimed that the movie's most important achievement was in bringing to an end the Airport series of movies, which could no longer be taken seriously.



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