Thursday, August 02, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Airplane II: The Sequel (1982) ***

PG, 84 min.
Director/Writer: Ken Finkleman
Starring: Robert Hays, Julie Haggerty, Lloyd Bridges, Chad Everett, Peter Graves, Chuck Connors, William Shatner, Raymond Burr, John Vernon, Stephen Stucker, Kent McCord, James A. Watson Jr., John Dehner, Rip Torn, Sonny Bono

I’ve never felt that “Airplane II” ever got the respect that it deserved. Its predecessor is often cited as one of the best spoofs of all time, but like all sequels, this one doesn’t live up to the first one. Essentially that’s true, but most people think of this second “Airplane” movie as stupid and derivative of the original. Well, of course it’s derivative; it’s a sequel. But the filmmakers do a very good job of only repeating a couple of the jokes from the first film. The new jokes are all made in the same spirit and are quite funny.

This production is filled with many of the subtle touches that made the first so successful. Notice the truck that Robert Hays gets off after he escapes from the mental hospital. You can barely see them, but it’s filled with pods from “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”. Notice also the posters in the backgrounds of the airport. My favorite was for Israeli Air. You still have the wonderful throwaway comments by Stephen Stucker, and many of the original cast members have returned to their zany roles.

The addition of William Shatner to the cast is also a stroke of genius that is right in line with the casting of Leslie Nielsen in the original. Shatner was really only known for his role as Captain Kirk in “Star Trek” at the time. The movies had just revitalized his career and although people made fun of his acting, he was not seen as a comedian. “Airplane II” gave Shatner one of his first of many opportunities to lampoon his own acting style. And, the detail of the “voice activated” doors at the lunar station is one of the great gags in spoof movie making. 

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