“Airplane!” is 35 years old
Airplane!, the gut busting, hilarious send-up of airplane disaster movies, turns 35 this year. For a long list of reasons, I’m not sure that a similar kind of movie could be made now, but especially for Gen Jonesers who grew up with the movies and television shows poked at and parodied in the film, it doesn’t get any funnier.
The IMDb.com profile gives you a list of the awesome cast, reader reviews, a list of classic quotes from the movie, and more.
In a great interview with co-producer David Zucker conducted by Yahoo’s Jordan Zakarin, we learn some of the backstories that led to the casting of the movie, including that of Peter Graves as Captain Oveur :
Peter Graves famously didn’t want to play the aspiring-pedophile pilot at first. Was he reluctant to deliver lines like “Have you ever seen a grown man naked”?
Peter Graves’s reaction [to the script] was, “This is the most disgusting piece of garbage I’ve ever read.” His wife and his daughter read it and they laughed all the way through and they said, “Dad, you have to do it.” So he was ready to do it when we shot.
Across the pond
My first experience of watching Airplane! was odd and memorable. It was the spring of 1981, and I was spending my final undergraduate semester at Valparaiso University’s Cambridge, England, study abroad center. I went with a group of fellow VU students to a local movie theatre. Amidst a somewhat sparsely attended screening, we were the only ones laughing uncontrollably throughout, while the rest of the (presumably British) audience chuckled politely on occasion.
How could our British moviegoers have understood how LOL funny this was! If you’re not familiar with Barbara Billingsley’s role as suburban housewife June Cleaver in the TV sitcom Leave It to Beaver, then you have no idea how hilarious it is to listen to her speaking jive to a couple of black passengers.
Of course, perhaps the Brits that night didn’t fully appreciate Airplane!‘s over-the-top, un-PC American-style humor, done in such rapid-fire, equal-opportunity target style that you don’t have time to become mortally offended.
I only know that my stomach was sore from laughing so hard.
The hot mess that is “Glee” is in its final season
When Glee (Fox) came onto the scene in 2009, it was all the buzz due to its edgy humor and snappy musical numbers, built around the ongoing fortunes of a high school glee club in small-town Ohio. It quickly gave notice that it would tackle, often in unorthodox fashion, topics such as teenaged angst, sexual orientation, jock culture, bullying, and the dynamics of a dysfunctional American high school.
Glee‘s ensemble cast of emerging stars, including Lea Michele as ingenue Rachel Berry and Broadway veteran Matthew Morrison as glee club director Will Shuester, would be joined regularly by notable guests drawn from stage and screen, some jumping into self-mocking roles.
The show was nominated for a slew of Emmy awards following its first full season. That would prove to be its high water mark, for although Glee would continue to have a core of devoted fans, it would soon lose some of its novelty. It also experienced real-life tragedy when Corey Monteith, a beloved core cast member, lost his battle with drug addiction and died due to an apparent overdose.
When Glee appeared, I found myself comparing it to another TV depiction of high school, the brilliant (and criminally overlooked) Friday Night Lights, a drama about life and football in small town Texas. With a few exceptions, the story lines and dialogue in Friday Night Lights were pitch perfect, even when dealing with sensitive subjects such as race or abortion.
By contrast, Glee has been a hot mess, sometimes nailing its messages, other times eliciting grimaces, but almost always in an entertaining mode. Pushing the envelope via a quirky mix of humor, music, and emotional drama is not an easy thing to do on network TV, but Glee has succeeded more often than not.
I haven’t been a steady Glee viewer. Like others, I was drawn to it at the beginning, and then kind of lost interest. But I’ve decided to tune in for the final season, and it has proven rewarding. On the whole, Glee has been good for television and spoken to a lot of kids (and some adults) who have felt like misfits while navigating the halls of their high schools and life in general.
According to BuzzFeed.com, I should’ve lived during the French Revolution, I embody Dunkin’ Donuts, and I’m really either President Ulysses S. Grant or Downton Abbey character Bates. And if MentalAge.com is correct, I’ve done all this before hitting 30!
If you’ve been spending time on Facebook with others who can be easily distracted, you’ve probably seen these humorous little quizzes from BuzzFeed. You answer a handful of multiple-choice questions about pop culture, personal beliefs, etc., and then you get the Big Reveal! It’s harmless, fun stuff, a pleasant little diversion for a Sunday afternoon, and a conversation starter on your Facebook News Feed:
- What period in history do you really belong? (Author: Sam Stryker)
- Which fast food chain are you? (Author: Leonora Epstein)
- Which U.S. President are you? (Author: Lara Parker)
- Which Downton Abbey character are you? (Author: Justin Abarca)
Hmm, maybe these quizzes aren’t totally random! After all, the French Revolution appeals to my rabble rouser side, its excesses notwithstanding. And Dunkin’ Donuts is a quintessential Boston fast food outlet that has attracted a share of my business over the years. I’ve also long admired Ulysses Grant, though more as a Civil War general than as President. And two years I ago I wrote on my professional blog that Bates is one of the most emotionally admirable workers portrayed on television! (Yeah, I know, he’s not a guy to have angry at you…)
Facebook also yielded this quick six-question quiz from yourmentalage.com:
It says my mental age is 28. Not so sure about this one! There’s a time, not too long ago, when I would’ve been ecstatic at anything, however frivolous, that rated my age at 28. But to be honest, I wouldn’t want to climb back into that young man’s head. No how, no way.
So maybe all of these answers are being fed into some huge marketing database. If so, whatever. But if I do wake up to find myself facing a French guillotine, I hope they’ll give me a DD dark roast and French cruller before I go.