This is At the Buzzer’s countdown of the best 25 comedies of all-time. Our panel of 10 cast their votes, and we’re revealing the results one by one until we get to No. 1 on Tuesday, May 10.
And now, our number 12:
12) Airplane! (4 votes, 196 points)
You’d better tell the captain we’ve got to land as soon as we can. This woman has to be gotten to a hospital.
A hospital? What is it?
It’s a big building with patients, but that’s not important right now.
Chris: This is probably the most divisive movie on the entire list. There are a couple panelists who absolutely love this movie, and a couple who have seen it and not enjoyed it whatsoever. The end result leaves Airplane! out of the top 10, but still scoring pretty highly overall.
I suppose I can’t say I’m surprised. Your enjoyment of Airplane! depends largely on how quickly you take to its style of humor. If you enjoy wordplay and double meanings and extremely literal punch lines, you’ll feel right at home. If not, it might make for a tough sell in 2016.
I’m somewhere in the middle. I certainly appreciate Airplane! and recognize its importance in the comedy pantheon, but…I can’t say I watched it and thought it was uproariously funny. Still, the movie is notable for being successful at playing against type — hell, it changed Leslie Nielsen’s entire career arc. And for whatever reason, I really enjoy seeing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar struggle to stay in character before someone finally gets him to snap.
Airplane! was extremely successful at the box office and has become an enduring classic over time. It’s certainly a movie you need to see, whether you end up liking it or not.
Cary: So I get that Airplane! isn’t the most appealing flick in today’s world of skinny jeans and well-trimmed facial hair. But today’s world is stupid. F*** skinny jeans and f*** taking three hours to achieve the perfect handlebar mustache. Airplane! is THE BEST comedy of its ilk; that ilk being one that harnessed the power of visual gags and slapstick over subtlety and charm. It is perfect? Not in my mind as I actually think that the filmmakers’ Naked Gun movies better show off the tropes developed in Airplane!.
But Airplane! wins overall because the comedy in it feels quite natural despite being so outlandish. There’s a certain flow to the jokes that works (like in the whole Oveur-over, Victor-vector scene) even when they feel abrupt, such as when Barbara Billingsley (the mother of Leave it to Beaver fame) gets her jive on to help a couple passengers. Plus, I can never get enough of Johnny’s “Well, I can make a hat or a brooch or a pterodactyl…”
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