HOLLYWOOD – Does the 1980 disaster parody movie hold up to a new generation of film makers who apparently have never watched anything or understood anything that they watched?
Less than 15 minutes into 1980 parody-comedy ‘Airplane’, and already we’ve seen airport security workers using an x-ray machine to gawp lewdly at women’s naked bodies, while the male passengers walk through the machine and appear clothed! It is only going to get worse. A woman is hysterical and not only does she get her face slapped, but a queue forms to smash her in the face, including a boxer, and someone with a baseball bat. Is this supposed to be funny?
I wanted to watched Airplane because I knew airplanes from flying on them and I knew films because they show them on planes sometimes. So it was like a perfect combination. So what happened? Is our generation really as hyper-sensitive and monumentally stupid as everyone seems to think we are or is Airplane the comedy version of Auschwitz and everyone involved should be sent to re-education camps?
The problem is not simply the treatment of women, although this alone would be enough to condemn it. There are ‘racial’ jokes, Jokes about religious minorities. A little boy is allowed into the cockpit where the pilot starts to ask him questions of what we can only call a Leaving Neverland nature. At another point someone said ‘Surely you’re not serious’ and the doctor said, ‘I’m serious and don’t call me Shirley’. But the guy hadn’t said Shirley, he’d said Surely. How insecure do you have to be in your toxic masculinity to think people call you Shirley and not surely? And we’re the snowflakes!?
I had high expectations for Airplane. A lot of people had told me that it was the height of zany comedy. But I watched disgusted, vomiting repeatedly on myself as my roommates – all of them looking like underwear models and eating Hagen Daas – vomited spirals of what could only be described as diversity vomit high into the air. I like my comedy not to punch down. I don’t even like my comedy to punch up. I’d prefer my comedy – if has to do anything – to sort of do Tai Chi moves without obviously culturally appropriating Tai Chi.
My advice is if you want to watch a comedy about a disaster you should spend more time on twitter.
In our continuing series of 47 films to watch before you are murdered in your dreams, we look at the under-rated Big Bus.
There have been films about big airplanes. There have been films about big boats singing. There have been films about big buildings burning. There have even been films about big German balloons bursting. But there has never been a film about The Big Bus!
The year is 1976 and disaster movies are at their height. But The Big Bus comes out to terrible reviews and is itself a disaster, with critics and audiences both, but I would say that this films stands comparison with the great Airplane (1980) as one of the best examples of Hollywood parody ever made.
The nuclear powered bus Cyclops is due to complete its maiden voyage from New York to Denver non-stop, when a terrorist backed by the oil companies plants a bomb, injuring the drivers. Designer Kitty Baxter (Stockard Channing) turns to disgraced driver Dan Torrance (Joseph Bologna), who has been ostracized by the bus driving community having been accused of cannibalism of 110 passengers following a snow bound accident on Mount Diablo. It is a charge he strongly denies, though he does admit he ate one foot. His co-driver ‘made a stew. I didn’t know what was in it!’
The passengers board the big bus with their own baggage – a warring couple, a doubting priest, a defrocked vet, a man with six months to live. Add to this a bomb on board and the fact that co-driver Shoulders (John Book) is not called shoulders because of his physique but because he drives on hard shoulders, and disaster is waiting around the corner. Some cracking visual gags and a witty script along with cameos from Ned Beatty and Larry Hagman and the best cocktail pianist in the Oriental Lounge make this a criminally under-rated and under-appreciated film. Watch it now. Or die trying.
For more of our 47 Films Click Here.
HOLLYWOOD – I know what you are thinking. It’s Easter but what egg themed film am I going to watch?
Well, the Studio Exec FACT squad has been out on the prowl and has carefully selected five EGG themed films for your viewing pleasure. ENJOY.
1. Cool Hand Luke. During this prison drama Paul Newman’s eponymous inmate eats 50 eggs in one hour for a bet. However, because they needed to film from different angles and use different lenses and in addition because the light was failing, in actual fact Paul Newman had to eat 176 eggs in little over twenty minutes causing an explosive flatulence and lifelong bad breath. As a way of compensating for the bad breath, Newman invented salad dressing!
2. Alien. Possibly the film which gave eggs a bad name to such an extent that the International Egg Consortium called for a boycott of Ridley Scott’s film using the slogan, ‘In Space No one Can Hear You Defame a Genuinely Delicious Source of Protein.’ It was not a success. When asked about the famous egg sequence, actor John Hurt who played Kane, the unfortunate astronaut answered simply that he had never enjoyed Easter since.
3. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The word bad egg has a long history dating back to the Chinese emperor Boi Eg who was so tyrannical that the entire food stuff – eggs – were made illegal for three entire generations. But Veruca Salt in the original and only adaptation of Roald Dahl’s novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a bad egg and gets her comeuppance and is appropriately murdered off screen.
4. Sleeper. Perhaps the most erotic use of an egg ever committed to celluloid, Woody Allen’s 1973 futuristic comedy was the first film to use the egg as a substitute for scenes of oral sex, soon to be joined by Rocky and Ghostbusters. By the nineties it was such a common practice that the MPAA began to consider egg use as a rate-able offence.
5. Airplane. Nothing is funnier than an egg coming out of someone’s mouth and this 1980 comedy spoof delivered the classic egg/mouth joke first invented by Fatty Arbuckle with zany aplomb.
For more FACTS click HERE.
HOLLYWOOD – Continuing our popular series, Desert Island Police Academy in which we ask celebrities which Police Academy they’d take with them if they were stranded on a Desert Island.
This week Her, We Bought a Zoo and Under the Skin actor, Scarlett Johansson.
So Scarlett, which Police Academy movie would you take with you on your desert island?
I think it would have to be the very first. The concept is fresh, Steve Guttenberg gives the performance of his career and the whole ensemble feels genuinely at ease with each other. The comedy comes thick and fast, as in the best Airplane tradition, but the characters are also there and you genuinely learn to care about them. This is a comedy with a heart of gold.
Great. Thank you very much.
On this desert island what kind of facilities are there for watching discs? And are we talking Blu-Ray or DVD?
We thought we’d go old school with a VHS player and a cassette.
So there’ll be a TV set.
And presumably a power supply?
Nice. Will there be other films to watch?
Just the first Police Academy?
It’s true then.
You really are using 100% of the potential of your brain.
I had to learn to use 100% in order to be utterly convincing as Lucy in the Luc Besson film Lucy.
You’re the best.
For more Desert Island Police Academy click here.
In the third of our series Thinking Comedy, film comedian Marlon Wayans ruminates on the anxiety of influence in parody.
My comedies have always been rooted in the tradition of parody and this is not something I’ve always been comfortable with. The etymological link between parody and parasite is enough to give me, having read a great deal of Jacques Derrida, pause.
Aside from the obvious need for a parody to endlessly recycle and reuse a host text or a series of host texts, there’s also the fact that parody has to in some way negotiate other parodies, often better parodies. Is it necessary to – as Harold Bloom argues in his monumental work of literary criticism – ‘kill your antecedents’? Or is this just overworked Freud?
My films, for instance, and I’m thinking specifically of the Scary Movie franchise, but also of White Chicks, Dance Flick and A Haunted House owe a lot to Airplane and Police Squad. They are essentially zanies, a series of jokes that seek almost to beat into submission as to entertain. Anyone unfamiliar with the work that is being parodied cannot hope to understand the comedies. The topicality also makes these works highly prone to decay. Will people still watch Scary Movie ten years from now? I highly doubt it.
And yet it was with some relief that David Zucker agreed to come on board to write and direct Scary Movie 5. As part of the team along with his brother Jerry and Jim Abrahams that brought us those classics of early eighties parody, I feel his involvement retrospectively gives my work an imprimatur of approval and quality. So thank you David, and, yes, the money is in the mail!