Soul Plane

Soul Plane. Boz Productions 2004.

Before watching the movie:

While I’ve seen occasional mentions of the title here and there, I don’t remember this movie being a new release. I’m sure that’s because I wasn’t the target demographic and they didn’t advertise anywhere I was paying attention.

As an adult-oriented “urban comedy” from the early 2000s, this will probably not have aged well, and apparently it wasn’t well-received at the time.

After watching the movie:

After a horrific experience on an airplane involving food poisoning, a malfunctioning toilet, and his dog getting sucked into the turbine, Nashawn Wade successfully sues the airline for one hundred million dollars and uses the money to start an airline done right, with his cousin Muggsy as his business partner. On Nashawn Wade Airlines (NWA)’s inaugural flight from LAX to JFK, Captain Mack admits once they’re at cruising altitude that he’s never been in a plane before. Nashawn finds his high school sweetheart on the plane and wants to reconcile, but she’s engaged. And Elvis Hunkee, the father of the only white family on the plane, finds his girlfriend seduced by an underwear model, his daughter eager to have a lot of unsavory firsts in the upper deck dance club for her 18th birthday, and his son blending in far too well. When Cpt. Mack accidentally overdoses on his copilot Gaemon’s African mushrooms and Gaemon knocks himself out from a slip and fall climbing out of the club hot tub, Nashawn has to take matters into his own hands.

The main source of punchlines in this movie is stereotypes. They’re mostly black American stereotypes aimed at a black American audience, so they’re also pretty one-note. There’s also a heaping helping of “white people scared to have black people in their presence” and “white people afraid of losing family members to black lifestyle”. Sometimes it’s almost funny, but mostly it’s just caricatures reacting to caricatures.

This movie draws a lot of comparisons to Airplane!, which is fair in that it’s a comedy with some incongruous sight gags set on an airplane, in which the cabin crew is entirely taken out of commission and a passenger has to land the plane. But while Airplane! is clearly a disaster movie spoof with a lot of gags included along the way, this movie feels more like they had a lot of gags they needed a plot to hang on. There’s not much conflict or plot until the third act needs a climax.

A movie-shaped collection of jokes can be fine when they’re funny. But the only things I found funny here were things I felt that I shouldn’t be laughing at but not so scandalized that they bothered me. There might be a good idea at the core, but there were a lot of bad ideas between it and the execution, to the point that this is the kind of movie that one questions how it came to exist in this form. It’s not a movie that shouldn’t be watched, it’s just a waste of time.

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