Friday, December 04, 2009

“We're not in the past anymore, Elaine. This... is the FUTURE.”

Go figure, Airplane! was a hit. You know what that means? In this case, its 1982’s Airplane II: The Sequel. Featuring a lot of returning cast members but a completely new creative team, this movie was a farcical comedy about a disaster…aboard…a…passenger…aircraft… Oh.

But this time, its in SPACE!

So the time is the FUTURE and somehow mankind has set up a colony on the Moon and the maiden voyage of a passenger shuttle takes off when disaster strikes. The flight crew get taken out by a rogue computer and they’re headed for the Sun and the only man who can safely land this thing is the shell-shocked former test pilot of it who’s recently escaped from a mental institute. Also, someone’s smuggled a bomb onto the flight.


Ted Striker: Robert Hayes returns as the deadpan, slightly sad looking hero who escapes from an asylum to try to prevent the launch of the flight but becomes a passenger to also try and stop his ex-girlfriend from marrying a jerk.

Elaine Dickinson: Julie Hagerty returns as Ted’s estranged lover who loves him but can’t be with him because…hey. They just reset their status quo for the movie. Anyway, she’s got a fiancée who’s a jerk, that’s the reason why she can’t be with Ted.

Captain Oveur: Peter Graves is back as the captain who gets incapacitated by the events of the movie. He takes a keen interest in a young boy brought up to the cockpit. A very keen interest.

Simon Kurtz: Chad Everett is Elaine’s jerkass fiancée who knows more about the flaws of the shuttle than he’ll admit. He’s also written out about halfway through.

Steve McCroskey: Lloyd Bridges is back as an air traffic controller brought out of retirement to help with the disaster. Now fully off his rocker, he gets some great bits, but he’s really not in the film all that much.

Controller Jacobs: Stephen Stucker returns as (I’m going to assume his first name’s Johnny) the drive by one-liner machine.

Joe Seluchi: One half of Sonny & Cher was in this movie: the man who would one day be Congressman Sonny Bono. He’s the guy who brings the bomb onto the plane.

Commander Buck Murdock: William Shatner is the man in mission control on the Moon who has to try and talk Striker down for a landing, but he and Striker have a bitter history going back…to…the…war. Oh. Anyway, his deadpan delivery is fantastically hammy, and he’s probably my pick for badass of the movie.

It’s directed by Ken Finkleman (who’s done mostly TV work but also, uh, Grease 2) and visually, its okay. Not really great, but serviceable. The props and sets are all low budget, which the movie plays up in visual gags. Structurally, it recycles a hell of a lot from the first movie. Sci-fi gets parodied a lot in this film, like the opening title crawl that’s obviously based on Star Wars.

Ken Finkleman on script duties. Most of the movie’s gags are recycled from the first one, and the new stuff is all fairly hit or miss. It follows the same formula as the first movie, perhaps a little too closely, actually, and a lot of the new jokes during the first half hour just don’t really work at all (like a boy’s dog being shot by an airline employee because “pets aren’t allowed on the flight” but its okay because it was a joke and the gun only had blanks and the dog gets up and…ugh, its not a funny joke). Some of the new stuff though is pretty good, like the “video screen” that Shatner gets introduced on actually just being a window to a door that he opens up (its…not as funny when I try to describe it). The pacing’s odd, because for the first half hour, I actually really didn’t find much funny, but once it picked up, the movie improved.

Original music by Elmer Bernstein, and its quite good for the nature of the film. Then for some reason the Battlestar Galactica theme (the original one by Stu Philips) is the fanfare playing over the opening crawl. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great fanfare, its just…odd that its in here.

Sequelitis is in full effect in Airplane II: The Sequel. Hell, they even put it in the title. It suffers mostly from being practically a remake of the original, making it feel like a cheap money grab by the studio. Its still an amusing movie, and there’s quite a bit to enjoy, but honestly, there’s not enough new stuff to earn a hearty recommendation. Its not a waste of time, but its entirely understandable if you skip this one.
Trailer over on IMDB. Apparently its a Christmas movie to boot.

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