Study Guide

Airplane! Absurdity

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The universe of Airplane! is just…strange. And that's putting it mildly.

From smoking tickets to suicidal seatmates, ZAZ's absurdist masterpiece is chock-full of surreal humor and self-referential gags that pay no mind to rationality, creating a space where madness reigns supreme.

Contributing to the absurdity of this universe, and thus the movie's special brand of humor, are the deadpan performances of the actors. While the world goes haywire around them, the characters of Airplane! can never seem to shake their chronic case of earnest obliviousness (source).

They accept the madness without question, trapped in this crazy world while the rest of us are just aboard for the ride.

Questions About Absurdity

  1. What's your favorite line in the movie? In your eyes, what makes it successful?
  2. Do you see Airplane!'s unique style of visual humor in today's movies? If so, where?
  3. Is Captain Oveur's interaction with Joey too offensive? Does the scene remain funny despite such suggestive overtones? If so, how does it accomplish this?

Chew on This

In Airplane!, everything is either a joke or the setup to one. Not a single moment is spared.

The movie's distinct brand of absurdist humor depends on the characters not being in on the joke.

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