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HTF Review: Airplane: "Don't Call Me Shirley!" Edition



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#1 of 38 PatWahlquist

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Posted December 08 2005 - 07:50 AM

Posted Image
Airplane: “Don’t Call Me Shirley!” Edition

Studio: Paramount Home Video
Year: 2005 (1980 Release)
Rated: PG
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 enhanced for 16x9 displays
Audio: English DD 5.1/ 2.0; French DD mono
Subtitles: English; Spanish
Time: 87 minutes
Disc Format: DVD-9
Case Style: Keep case/slip sleeve

“I’d like one way ticket to Chicago. No baggage.” – Ted Striker

If you’re anything like me, you’ve seen "Airplane" several times, perhaps even into the hundreds of viewings. You can recite every line, you know where all the gags are going to hit, and you can mimic Leslie Nielsen’s entrances. You have a tendency to compare other pictures to "Airplane" because hardly anything sticks with you the way it does.

Therefore, I’m not going to spend a lot of time on a synopsis of the story, but I will give you a little bit of history. "Airplane" is Jerry and David Zucker, and Jim Abram’s (who I’ll refer to as ZAZ from now on) first directorial effort, and it is based on the 1957 picture "Zero Hour". "Zero Hour" depicts a plane trip in serious trouble, and ZAZ accidentally found the picture when they were compiling commercial bits for their Kentucky Fried Theater. Once they spent some time watching "Zero Hour", ZAZ determined it was ripe for parody, so they (self-admittedly) ripped it off to make "Airplane". Some of "Zero Hour"’s scenes are completely lifted and put into "Airplane" with tremendous comedic results. Everything in "Airplane" is played straight: the jokes, the physical comedy and all of the dialogue. But to give the uninitiated a quick synopsis, "Airplane" follows the story of a commercial airline voyage that loses its crew to a bad meal, and the redemption of a former war pilot who is tapped to save the lives of everyone aboard.

Before I go on to the meat of the review, Paramount has put four previews on the front of the movie that you cannot skip past by using the menu button on your remote. Instead, you have to hit the chapter advance and move through them. While not a huge deal, it is annoying.

The menus are animated to look like a safety card from airlines and it takes some scenes from the movie and it animates them in that style. The feature is selected as “In Flight Movie”. The insert in the package also resembles the safety card, and it too has several jokes based on the movie. This insert also has an offer to buy an inflatable “Otto” the Auto Pilot blow up doll. This is just the beginning of the fun of this release.


Video
Unfortunately, Paramount has not taken the time to do a new hi-def transfer of the film. This release suffers from heavy grain and digitizing in many scenes, and on my 92” screen it really stuck out. Viewers with smaller displays may not notice it as much. Colors are mediocre at best, but they appear washed out. Flesh tones are somewhat washed out giving everyone a pale appearance. The lighting of the original shoot may contribute to some inconsistencies with the colors as well. The film was shot quickly on a small budget in 1980, so I don’t think there was much concern with lighting subtleties. Whites are accurate, and blacks are deep and show sufficient shadow detail. The picture is very soft and detail, especially in the background, is fair, but not as sharp as seen in better transfers. The Jive subtitles and the signage on the plane (such as the fasten seatbelt sign) tend to smear. The transfer itself shows some dirt and flecks, and some scenes are worse than others. Edge enhancement is minimal. This appears to be the same transfer from the original DVD version.

Video rating: 2 / 5

Audio
The Dolby Digital 5.1 is wasted in this release. Sound is in the front and center channels throughout the entire movie and the LFE is rarely utilized. I didn’t notice any information coming out of the surrounds. It may have been interesting to move the continuous hum of the plane to the surrounds to enhance the “you are there” effect. Regardless, the voices are clear and accurate, but ADR is apparent at times. Elmer Bernstein’s score has a natural feel to it and it’s serious tone only helps to reinforce the “serious” nature of the comedy. One curious thing I noticed was when the Bee Gee’s “Stayin’ Alive” is playing in the disco scene: it sounds as if it’s been sped up. The commentary clears this up by telling us it was one of the conditions of getting clearance to use this track. It sounds a little faster than it was on the previous DVD release, and I don't have the laserdisc or VHS to compare it with the current release.

Audio rating: 2 / 5

Bonus Material
“Long Haul Version”:
I was hoping to get a version of this movie that had all the deleted scenes reinstated. This edition of "Airplane" gives you the “Long Haul Version”: while the movie proceeds, you get deleted scenes and interviews with ZAZ and various cast members. These participants do video commentaries to the scenes and explain any background. For the deleted scenes, ZAZ explains why they were cut, and then they are shown. So, while not a seamless branching version of the film, you get the documentary and deleted scenes shoehorned back into the feature itself. The DVD producers dug pretty deep to get content for this version, even the real “Boy Trapped In Refrigerator Eats Own Foot” is interviewed. If you are as familiar with the movie as I am, this is a new way to enjoy the feature itself, and the commentaries pop up every couple of minutes.

The deleted scenes in the “Long Haul Version” include: “Hi, Jack!”, an expanded scene with the kids where they introduce themselves to one another, and a scene with McCrosky and Kramer at a water cooler.

Feature length commentary track: ZAZ provide us with a feature length commentary that is the same one that was on the previous release. It is enjoyable, but much of the information is in the video interviews and the trivia track.

Theatrical Trailer: Most trailers from films of this era were concerned with the serious voice over, and this one is no exception. The trailer is anamorphically enhanced.

Trivia Track: This feature has pop ups about every minute during the feature pointing out background to the film, the actors, the sets and other aspects of production. If you’ve watched the “Long Haul Version” and you’ve listened to the commentary, you know most of it already. You can, however, watch the trivia track while the director’s commentary is on to go through the bonus materials a little quicker.

Bonus material rating: 3.5 / 5

Conclusions:
This is an improved release of this classic comedy in terms of extras, but we have yet to see a great video and audio presentation. Then again, I wonder if a picture such as Airplane really needs a HD transfer with an active 5.1 soundtrack. If you are a fan of "Airplane", you can’t go wrong with ZAZ’s involvement with the extras, and you are sure to enjoy the commentaries in their various forms.

Notes:
- I orginally posted this review on Monday night, but due to the issues with the forum, it was lost. There were a couple responses to the review, one of which I added into the review. It was a question regarding the speed up of "Stayin' Alive". I have added in a line to the review to address this since my response was lost.

- This review was done on the equipment in my main set up.
ISO "Lost" ARG prints from Kevin Tong, Olly Moss, Eric Tan and Methane Studios.  PM me if you want to sell!

All reviews done on a Marantz VP11S1 1080p DLP projector.

Displays professionally calibrated by Gregg Loewen of Lion AV.

#2 of 38 Jeff F.

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Posted December 08 2005 - 08:39 AM

I remember this film very well when it was in theaters back in the day, and the song "Stayin' Alive" was always sped up - which kind of bugged me even then.

#3 of 38 Mark Lucas

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Posted December 08 2005 - 08:53 AM

Doesn't sound that exciting to me. I rather have real special editions of The Naked Guns films anyway though.

#4 of 38 Johnny Angell

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Posted December 08 2005 - 09:44 AM

Quote:
Feature length commentary track: ZAZ provide us with a theatrical trailer that is the same one that was on the previous release. It is enjoyable, but much of the information is in the video interviews and the trivia track.


I'm a little fuzzy here. Are you saying this new release contains the same commentary as the previous release? The "provide us with a theatrical trailer" comment is confusing me.
Johnny
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#5 of 38 Geoff_D

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Posted December 08 2005 - 09:53 AM

I've sold my old edition, so I'll definitely be getting this. Thanks for the review Pat, although it still needs to be fine-tuned methinks. Posted Image

#6 of 38 PatWahlquist

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Posted December 08 2005 - 10:00 AM

Johnny, and all, that should have read, and now does read, " feature length commentary". I joked to Ron last night, that I post my first review and the forum crashes!

Thanks,
Pat
ISO "Lost" ARG prints from Kevin Tong, Olly Moss, Eric Tan and Methane Studios.  PM me if you want to sell!

All reviews done on a Marantz VP11S1 1080p DLP projector.

Displays professionally calibrated by Gregg Loewen of Lion AV.

#7 of 38 Dale MA

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Posted December 08 2005 - 01:17 PM

Thanks for the review Pat.

I'll be picking this title up, since I never bought the original disc.

#8 of 38 Richard Schultz

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Posted December 08 2005 - 04:52 PM

is there an icon that appears on the screen during the long haul version to access the documentary?

#9 of 38 Ronald Epstein

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Posted December 09 2005 - 12:48 AM

Pat,

Do you get the deleted scenes whether you choose
to watch the Long Haul version or not?

I like the idea of the film braching, but not
sure that every time I want to watch the film with
the deleted material I also have to watch the
interviews.

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#10 of 38 Paul Arnette

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Posted December 09 2005 - 01:17 AM

Ron,

That was exactly my question as well.

All,

I can't really tell from the reviews I've read whether the commentary included is 'new' as they claim?

Overall initial impressions with this set is disappointment. Like many others, I wanted an extended version of this film with all the deleted scenes included, not to be forced to sit through interviews, etc. in order to see *some* of them. Again, at first glance this seems like a Stripes kinda deal. I am underwhelmed to say the least.

Man, a lot of releases this quarter are ending up in that category it seems: Disney's Emperor's New Groove, Tarzan, and Muppet movies, The Big Lebowski, Airplane!, and Sin City.

Oh, well, at least I am saving some money.
--
Paul Arnette
Universal Blu-ray Discs I will not be buying while they're offered only as Blu-ray + DVD 'flipper' discs:

The Jackal
, Out of Africa, and Traffic.

#11 of 38 Mike_Richardson

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Posted December 09 2005 - 04:11 AM

Ron,
It's a huge disappointment -- and it's worse than you think.

There's no way to access ANY of the supplemental material (the interviews, the deleted scenes) other than literally watching the movie and having the DVD automatically forward to the respective special features on its own. Thus, you either remember where a certain interview or deleted scene is, and scan to that point on the DVD so you can watch it, or you spend all day trying to find it again Posted Image

BIG TIME bad mistake, IMHO... Posted Image

#12 of 38 Ronald Epstein

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Posted December 09 2005 - 04:22 AM

WoW!

That's terrible.

How could Paramount screw this up so badly?

Ronald J Epstein
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#13 of 38 Scott Kimball

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Posted December 09 2005 - 04:42 AM

Quote:
There's no way to access ANY of the supplemental material (the interviews, the deleted scenes) other than literally watching the movie and having the DVD automatically forward to the respective special features on its own.

That's terrible. Do these things have title assignments so that you could access by title? Sloppy way to have to do it, but after a once-through, if they have unique title numbers, you could make an insert for future reference.

I'll probably pick this up, anyway - since I never bought the previous edition. It's got to be better than my VHS copy.

-Scott

#14 of 38 Scott Temple

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Posted December 09 2005 - 04:50 AM

So there's no reason to keep the original DVD, right? I have the original and my copy of the new disc shipped this morning from DVD Empire.
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#15 of 38 Paul McElligott

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Posted December 09 2005 - 05:10 AM

Quote:
So there's no reason to keep the original DVD, right?
If you have the original, I don't think there's any reason to get this one.
R.I.P. DVDSpot

#16 of 38 TonyD

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Posted December 09 2005 - 05:24 AM

"Click on Equipment List link above to see my home theater systems!"

pat you may need to re-add that link.

nice review.
have you written them before somewere else?

who was the previous paramount reviewer?

i'll get this, as it is my favorite comedy.
too bad paramount doesnt know what to do with so many of their properties.
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#17 of 38 Dale MA

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Posted December 09 2005 - 05:35 AM

I'll be picking-up the DVD even though the interface sounds like a nightmare Posted Image A simple menu would suffice Paramount!

#18 of 38 Bob clamer

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Posted December 09 2005 - 05:41 AM

Never picked up the original so this is a no-brainer. I read that you can get an inflatable pilot by mail plus s/h with this DVD for a limited time.

#19 of 38 Ronald Epstein

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Posted December 09 2005 - 05:45 AM

I'm sorry, I should have made an
announcement....

Pat Wahlquist is our newest Paramount reviewer.
He replaces Scott Kimball who decided to leave
the position due to a busy schedule that inhibited
him from continuing.

We will greatly miss Scott, but think you'll
find that Patrick will fit the bill nicely.

Getting back to the thread at hand...

You know, when Paramount first released this
DVD a few years back many of us balked at the
fact that the studio never included any of the
excised footage that regularly showed up on
TV airings throughout the year.

A lot of pressure was put on the studio to
put out a real "Collector's Edition," and I
am very saddened that they took the ball and
fumbled it. The DVD should have been branched
so that the deleted scenes could be viewed within
the feature by choice. The added interviews
should have been included in the supplements
with footage references.

I'm very sorry I preordered this DVD knowing
this is the way it was assembled.

Ronald J Epstein
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#20 of 38 Mark Lucas

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Posted December 09 2005 - 07:27 AM

Maybe the Zuckers and Abrahams didn't want to put together an extended cut.





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