Reviewed by
Colin Jacobson

Title: Airplane II: The Sequel! (1982)
Studio Line: Paramount Pictures - Just when you thought it safe to go back into the departure lounge.

There's a mad bomber on board, the first lunar shuttle is about to self-destruct, the engines are not working and - worst of all - the flight crew discovers they are completely out of coffee! It's the high flying lunacy of Airplane! all over again as Robert Hays and Julie Hagerty fly totally out of the ozone to recreate their hilarious original roles. The crew of crazies includes Peter Graves, Lloyd Bridges, William Shatner, Chad Everett, Sonny Bono, Raymond Burr and many others. Can Hays save the day again - without caffeine? Fasten your seatbelts for a ride you'll never forget - Airplane II: The Sequel.

Director: Ken Finkleman
Cast: Robert Hays, Julie Hagerty, Lloyd Bridges, Chad Everett, Peter Graves, Chuck Connors, William Shatner, Raymond Burr
DVD: Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9; audio English Digital Mono, French Digital Mono; subtitles English; closed-captioned; single sided - single layered; 15 chapters; rated PG; 84 min.; $29.99; street date 10/24/00.
Supplements: None.
Purchase: DVD

Picture/Sound/Extras: B-/C/F

If one wants proof that I'm a masochist, here it is! I suppose that I punished myself enough through my decision to screen Airplane!. After all, I never liked the movie, and I really don't care for the style of humor favored by writers/directors Jim Abrahams and David and Jerry Zucker; I thought the Naked Gun series was terrible, and I completely loathed The Kentucky Fried Movie.

However, since Airplane! is often regarded as a comedy classic, my choice made some sense. But this doesn't explain what in the world I was thinking - or smoking - when I opted to watch Airplane II: The Sequel. If I expected to dislike the original - which I did - why did I believe I might enjoy the sequel?

Actually, I suppose it was possible I might like A II since other instances existed in which I despised a first film but thought better of the follow-up. I can't say I enjoyed the sequels to Home Alone or Problem Child, but since I still cringe at the thought of the miserable originals, the second movies were at least semi-watchable.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Airplane II. Although I didn't care for the first movie, I found at least a couple of moderately interesting elements within it. Not so for the sequel, which offers virtually no enjoyment or pleasure at any point in time - it's an absolute dud.

As with many sequels, A II essentially remakes the original, though on the surface, it looks like it provides a twist on the disaster-film theme. A II takes place in an undefined future in which consumer space travel is a reality. One might think this would give the filmmakers plenty of opportunities to spoof the multiple clichés of science fiction movies. However, although we witness a few gags based on sci-fi flicks - most of which relate to 2001: A Space Odyssey - the movie mainly sticks to the same airplane/disaster themes used the first time.

Actually, the movie mainly sticks to the same jokes used the first time. A II displays virtually no creativity or originality as it simply cannibalizes the original film for its attempts at humor.

Much of the first film's cast returns. We find Robert Hayes as troubled flight jockey Ted Striker, Julie Hagerty as his on-again, off-again flight attendant girlfriend Elaine Dickinson, Peter Graves as pilot Clarence Oveur, and Lloyd Bridges as burned-out flight traffic controller Steve McCroskey. A couple of other minor characters return as well.

The appearance of so many Airplane! cast members creates an unwarranted sense of continuity between the two films. Yes, a lot of the actors worked on the sequel, but virtually none of the crew from the original are found here. Howard Koch functioned as a producer on both pictures, but otherwise literally none of the creative talent behind Airplane! made the move to the sequel.

This means that instead of the successful Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker team that led the first film, the director and writer of A II is someone named Ken Finkleman. A look at his resume shows that A II was his debut as a filmmaker and that he went on to direct one more movie: 1986's Head Office. Feel free to take a moment so you can scratch your head and think, "Huh?"

(Surprisingly, Head Office featured a solid little cast. It apparently starred Judge Reinhold and also included Danny DeVito, Rick Moranis, Wallace Shawn, Jane Seymour, and a host of other semi-recognizable names. None of this helped me remember it, though.)

Lest you think I'm being too hard on Ken, let's look at the rest of his track record. After all, just because he never directed a hit doesn't mean he might not have worked on some in other capacities. Unfortunately, that's exactly the case here. Finkleman suffers from the distinction of having written some of the worst movies ever made; in addition to A II, he also penned 1982's Grease 2 and 1987's Who's That Girl?, a film so crummy it embarrassed even a die-hard Madonna fan like me.

As much as I dislike the work of Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker, they represent the collective reincarnation of the Marx Brothers compared to Finkleman, and Airplane! seems brilliant when viewed alongside its sequel. During their audio commentary on the first film, at least one of the guys stated that he'd never been able to watch the second movie. Because of that, I have a little more respect for him.

I'm also envious, for I truly wish I could say I never saw Airplane II: The Sequel. This wretched piece of imitation comedy fails in every way possible. It displays no signs of creativity or inventiveness and it simply regurgitates gags made popular by others. You want to know the highlight of this film? When Pat Sajak popped up in a minor role. Anytime the sight of his little round head is welcome, you know there's something wrong. Airplane II has plenty wrong with it and virtually nothing right; it' s a total clunker.

The DVD:

Airplane II: The Sequel appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. While the picture looked somewhat dated and bland, it provided a fairly acceptable viewing experience.

Sharpness usually seemed pretty clear and accurate. At times, some shots - usually interiors - came across as slightly fuzzy and indistinct, but for the most part, the movie was crisp and detailed. Moiré effects appeared on occasion, and I saw occasional artifacts from the anamorphic downconversion on my 4X3 TV. Print flaws appeared minor. Light grain and some black specks of grit showed up at times, but no more significant defects like scratches, hairs, blotches or tears caused problems.

Colors looked fairly true but seemed somewhat bland. During scenes with red lighting, the tones were a little excessively heavy, but those instances provided the only concerns related to hues. Otherwise, the colors appeared slightly drab but were acceptably accurate.

Black levels also came across as somewhat flat and lifeless, but they seemed decent for the most part. These portions should have looked deeper and darker, but they weren't excessively gray or pale and they usually were good. Shadow detail appeared a bit too thick throughout much of the film, and parts of the low-light scenes could be a little difficult to discern. Despite some minor flaws, the image of Airplane II largely looked pretty good, and it definitely outdid the more problematic picture of the original.

However, the film's monaural soundtrack doesn't live up to the Dolby Digital 5.1 remix of the first movie. Actually, the audio quality of Airplane II seemed relatively clear, but the limitations of the single-channel format made it out of date. Dialogue appeared pretty natural and well-articulated, with no problems related to intelligibility or edginess. Effects sounded somewhat thin and flat but they lacked substantial distortion or significant concerns. The score was also a bit weak and it showed no distinct dynamic range, but the music seemed acceptably smooth and bright for the most part. Overall, the film presented a perfectly average monaural soundtrack.

Much less acceptable are the supplements on this DVD. Airplane II offers absolutely no extras; we don't even find a trailer on this disc. Boo!

And boo, too, for Airplane II: The Sequel. Even though I disliked the original film, its spin-off is a total disgrace as it does nothing more than replay the events and jokes from the first movie, and does so with much less style and verve. The DVD presents a somewhat bland but generally good picture, with listenable monaural sound but no supplements whatsoever. The only reason to buy or watch this movie is if you're a relative of Ken Finkleman. Actually, if that's the case, you should still avoid this film. Instead, do me a favor and kick Finky in the head a couple of times; then he can know how I felt after I sat through the atrocity he gave us.

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