This Week on the Year That Was:
1980: Have you ever been to a Turkish prison?
25 years ago this week, I graduated from high school. That's TWENTY-FIVE. A classmate had a baby right after graduation. That "baby" is an adult now, and a mother. That's how long it's been. I have a classmate who is a grandmother.
1980. Stamps were 15 cents. Gas was a $1.25. Jimmy Carter was president. I was rocking out to Van Halen and Pink Floyd (how weird is it that 25 years later, my own kid is rocking out to those very bands?), having near death experiences and wondering what the hell I was going to do with my life.
Ah, but I'm not going to muse about how old I feel or how life moves pretty fast, or what graduation means. No, I'm here to discuss another significant, historical, life-altering thing that happened in 1980:
Airplane! was released.
That's right. The most significant event to occur in 1980 was not my high school graduation, the Iran hostage crisis, the Miracle on Ice, the death of John Bonham, the invention of the 7-11 Big Gulp™, the bulky, cumbersome home video recorders hitting the market. The earth shattering moment in 1980 came when Jim Abrams and the Zucker Brothers released the most quoted movie of my life. And, quite possibly, the funniest.
While gas prices rise and fall and Olympic hockey teams come and go, Airplane! has remained a constant, a stalwart fixture that has become an intrinsic part of my world from my vocabulary to my dance moves.
There is no other movie, not Star Wars, not Caddyshack, not Big Lebowski, that has offered the world so many repeatable lines; lines that aren't just thrown out there in conversation for comedy sake, but phrases that fit into the tapestry of every day life.
How many times have you pulled up at an airport and said Look Betty, don't start up with your white zone shit again?
I can't tell you the number of times someone in my family has reached for a second cup of coffee and we race to be the first to say "He never has a second cup of coffee at home," which leads to "I take it black, like my men."
And: "I've got to concentrate...concentrate...concentrate..."
You know what I'm talking about, because you're always saying things like "Have you ever seen a grown man naked?" or "Do you like movies about gladiators?" And I KNOW you have said at least once in the last 25 years "Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit amphetamines/smoking/sniffing glue."
What do you say when someone mentions the word hospital?
What is it?
It's a big building with patients, but that's not important right now.
On the occasion when someone says to me "Are you ready to go?" and I respond "We have clearance, Clarence," I know I have a soulmate in that person when they answer with "Roger, Roger. What's our vector, Victor?"
And this one is so handy, I've used it (or a variation) about twenty times on this blog alone: They bought their tickets, they knew what they were getting into. I say, let 'em crash.
I don't know about you, but if any member of my family is at a party where the DJ plays "Stayin' Alive," we're up on the dance floor doing the knife-in-the-back thing.
On the occasion of having a shitty day: Do you know what it's like to fall in the mud and get kicked... in the head... with an iron boot?
My favorite character in the movie: Johnny. He's the one I definitely imitate the most. The tower, the tower, Rapunzel.
Airplane! will live forever because its comedy is timeless (and it was the start of a long-running genre of parody movies). Bad puns (ham on five, hold the mayo), cheap shots and campy one-liners never go out of style. Millions of parents will pass the love of this movie down to their children. I know that one day in the future I will be lying on my death bed, my children and grandchildren gathered around me, waiting to pull the plug and a doctor will say "She's alive, but unconscious," and someone in my family will respond "Just like Gerald Ford." There will be big laughs right as I die. Thank you, Zucker brothers!
Surely, Airplane! must be the most quoted movie of all time.
And don't call me Shirley.
(You saw that coming, didn't you?)
Update: I meant to add - aside from the quotes, what's your favorite moment in the movie? (Which someone in the comments answered before I even asked!)