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A Paramount Home Video Release
1980, 87 Minutes, Color, Rated PG (14A in Canada)

Starring:  Robert Hays, Ethel Merman, Julie Hagerty, Robert Stack, Leslie Nielson, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Peter Graves, Lloyed Bridges, Barbara Billingsley, Kenneth Tobey
List Price:  $29.99 USD, released 10/24/00
Packaging:  Keepcase, Region 1 NTSC
Disc Format:  Single Sided, Single Layered (DVD-5)
Aspect Ratio:  1.77:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Audio Formats:  English DD 5.1, French 1.0
Subtitles:  English
Closed Captioning:  English
Features:  Audio commentary, theatrical trailer, scene selection.

One of the Zuckerís most hilarious films places ex-fighter pilot Ted Striker, now terrified of flying due to his war experience, boarding a jet plane to Chicago, on which his almost-ex-girlfriend is working as a stewardess. But when food poisoning turns the pilot, co-pilot and navigator into quivering blobs of jelly, Ted is the only healthy person left aboard with piloting experience to take a yoke. And so, the entire planeload of passengers is counting on him to get the plane down safely before the poison begins to cause casualties. But is he up to the pressure? Airplane! is a classic spoof of all the 70ís airport disaster films. Although originally a low-budget production, itís held up quite well over the past 20 years.

The remastered video fares quite well, considering the age and nature of the movie. The anamorphic widescreen transfer features a 1.77:1 ratio Ė full 16x9. The print used is commendably clean, but does exhibit a fair amount of low level noise on outdoor shots. In addition, many such scenes appear to have a brighter strip along the right side of the screen. Most indoor shots do not seem to suffer the same fate and instead have solid color and black levels, but some do feature severe blooming Ė but in this case the original film can be blamed. Itís certainly not reference quality, but itís much better than I was expecting. The single layered disc contains 4.4 gigabytes of information with the 87-minute the movie divided into 26 chapter stops.

Although the film apparently received a brand new 5.1 audio mix for this DVDís release, Iíd be hard pressed to tell it apart from the original mono soundtrack on my VHS tape. The sound is still quite harsh with a fair amount of background hiss and other unwanted noise. Some special sound effects, such as breaking glass, tend to grate on the ears. Dialogue is clear, but barely any use is made of the rear channels or subwoofer track. Itís a fun film, but donít buy it for the sound. Also on the disc is a French mono soundtrack and English captions and subtitles.

In terms of extra features, thereís two. The first is the original theatrical trailer. Although itís remarkably grainy, it is letterboxed and runs for a full three and a half minutes Ė a great bit of nostalgia. The second, a group commentary track with producer Jon Davison and writer/directors Jim Abrahams, Jerry Zucker and David Zucker, is much more interesting and actually delves quite a bit into the behind scenes production Ė even poking fun at the cheesy special effects.

Overall this is a worthwhile release for Airplane! movie fans. Although the quality is only fair and extra features are quite limited, the film itself is presented in a better format than it ever has been before.

- Reviewed by Daniel Tonks on November 20, 2000.

Video Quality:
Audio Quality:
1-Poor 2-Fair 3-Good 4-Excellent
System Equipment
Sony DVP-S500D DVD Player
Sony STR-GA8ES 5.1 Receiver
Sony 32" XBR250 WEGA TV using Component
Nuance Spatial Baby Grand 3E & StarSat

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