Airplane! (1980)

1h 28m / PG / Comedy

Celebrating 30 Years of Summer Classics on the Big Screen!


Ted Striker is a retired fighter pilot, who, ever since participating in a failed mission in an unnamed war, has developed a chronic fear of flying. But when half the passengers and both pilots on his flight suddenly fall ill with a case of food poisoning, Ted is forced to overcome his fears and take the controls.

When you just describe what Airplane! is, it doesn’t sound very funny. A satire of ‘70s disaster movies in the form of a fairly loyal remake of the airline thriller Zero Hour! (complete with exclamation point), filled with zany characters and slapstick that feels almost vaudeville-era? But then you start quoting it. The brilliance of the creative team of Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker (the minds behind The Naked Gun and Hot Shots!), and the total commitment of a bizarre cast (Lloyd Bridges, Leslie Nielsen and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar weren’t exactly known as firecracker comedians) mean that it continues to hold up as one of the pre-eminent parody films of the past 50 years. It’s racy, it’s risky, and it’s got maybe the highest pure gags-per-second rate of any movie ever.

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The Summer Classics movie series is presented by Bank of America. Additional support is provided by The University of Tampa and WEDU-PBS.