Airplane: Don't Call Me Shirley Edition Jim Abrahams

Intending to parody the disaster b-movies from the '50s and '60s that once populated late night television before the age of infomercials, Airplane may just be the zenith of American comedies. At times, Jim Abrahams and the Zucker brothers' writing comes off as cheap, going for "groaners" no better than that of most sitcoms. Yet, it's the hyperactive pacing of their satire that destroys the audience. Jokes fly on multiple levels; Lloyd Bridges plays a perfect parody of the archetypal disaster film character in the foreground, while absurd character "Johnny" zooms in and out of the background, twisting his words into a free association train wreck. No comedy style is left unused, from bad puns to silly slapstick to absurdist distortions of circumstance. Although most comedies are ghettoised with cheap, featureless DVD releases, Airplane (which had a featureless release) gets the full treatment in this re-release. Featuring not only commentary by the full writing/directing team, the Don't Call Me Shirley Edition has interviews and deleted scenes interrupt play in a footnote-like "Long-haul" version, as well as a factoid mode, à la Pop Up Video. Fans will be excited by this four-fold viewing experience that includes not only the filmmakers but a good chunk of its players, including a now grown-up Billy, the boy who visits the cockpit and is asked by Peter Graves, "son, have you ever seen a man naked?" Gems like the genesis of that joke revealed in the commentary (the first incarnation of that inquiry related to the location the scene took place), a shot for shot comparison to disaster movie Zero Hour in the "Long-haul" version, and anecdotes that cascade through multiple special featurettes, like Kareem Abdual Jabar agreeing to play a co-pilot character originally written for Pete Rose for the price of an oriental rug, keeps the multiple viewings engrossing. This special edition finally gives the tenth funniest movie of all time, according to the AFI, the treatment it deserves. (Paramount)