Surely You Can’t Be Serious

9/27/06: Post 1.012

I flew to Anchorage on United last Thursday, and I was very excited to discover that United now has a direct flight. Getting in and out of Anchorage used to involve a layover in Seattle, and no matter how short the layover the total trip was never less than eight hours. Now, thanks to the booming economy being fueled by the “lower 48”, one can get directly from San Francisco to Anchorage in four and a half hours.

Not only does this mean no layover, a direct flight also meanss in-flight entertainment. I had forgotten this fact and planned to work all the way to Anchorage, until the movie screens lowered and flickered to life, flashing a trailer for the film to be shown. The first movie being shown was so incredibly ironic that I had no choice but to hibernate my laptop, shut down the .mp3 player, and quickly jack in to the armrest. If United was really going to do this, I didn’t want to miss a single second.

Airplane has long been a favorite movie in my world. I’m pretty sure it and Caddyshack infected our entire generation. If you haven’t seen Airplane recently, go out and buy the DVD. The commentary track is almost as funny as the film, and the film holds up to the test of time. There are far too many great scenes in that film to pick a favorite, but one of my favorites has to be the scene where the in-flight movie is one of those classic airplane disaster films they are mocking.

Someone in United’s film selection department must be a fan of Airplane as well. It is the only thing that would explain why they would show Poseidon, the remake of the 70’s disaster film The Poseidon Adventure on board the airplane. An extremely ironic choice, really, to show a film aboard an airplane about a vessel that gets into trouble and the vast majority of the passengers die. Extremely ironic for an airplane bound for one of the top one-way cruise departure ports in the world.

They edited it for content, making sure to take out the really yucky bits, but still it’s obvious when people are drowning. Or burning to death. Or both (mmmmm…flaming oil-slick…) I laughed uproariously throughout the film, often at inappropriate times. I think I laughed only slightly harder than I would have if I weren’t watching the movie on an airplane. Poseidon is exactly what you would expect, and maybe a little bit less.

I do have to give them credit for their willingness to kill off characters, however. They make fun of themselves and the genre by setting you up with some of the classic stereotypical disaster characters, and then snuffing them out unexpectedly. Like I said, probably not the best idea that I laughed heartily every time this happened. But what could I do? I was on a freaking airplane in 2006: they won’t let you take water, lipstick or toothpaste on board, they track “threat levels” with colors that seem to change according to the season or election year, and everyone always seems a little extra edgy somewhere along the way.

What better way to help people relax and enjoy the flight than to show them how much safer they are on an airplane than in one of those floating coffins they call a ship?

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