Flying High vs Flying High II: The Sequel

March 1st, 2003 DVD Reviews, Film, Filmink

If you’re a fan of the classic early 80’s sight gag comedy of films like Flying High and Top Secret, you’ll think you’ve died and gone to heaven to have both films in your DVD collection. This was the heyday of the comic parody pioneered by the likes of the Zucker brothers with Jim Abrahams and also Neal Israel/Pat Proft (Hot Shots, Police Academy, Bachelor Party).

Sadly, those days don’t look like ever returning. After the Naked Gun series Leslie Neilsen has appeared in increasingly silly ‘comedies’ and the current holders of the title — the Wayans’ (Scary Movie) — have more of a ‘parody meets gross-out on crack’ style.

But a few hours of these DVDs will have you endlessly quoting classic lines like ‘I am serious, and don’t call me Shirley’, and ‘looks like I picked the wrong week to …’
There really is no clear winner — maybe it’s the original simply for being first (during the commentary, the directors mention that they had nothing to do with the sequel, having plumbed their collective knowledge for every air disaster gag they could think of).

Both films have the same atmosphere and the same elements; serious dramatic actors to heighten the comic tension, completely ridiculous visual gags and corny jokes ranging from the chucklesome to the hysterical. They both deliver jokes with machine gun rapidity — some more subtle than others that you have to watch and listen carefully for.

Besides the fashions, neither film has really dated and the comedy is ironically more sophisticated than in similar examples of the genre today, where writers and directors think audiences are idiots and relentlessly hammer every point.

Being such old movies (1980 and 1982) not a lot of material would still exist, so the big disappointment is the extras. Flying High II has no extras whatsoever, Flying High has only the original theatrical trailer and a commentary by directors David and Jerry Zucker and Jim Abrahams and producer Jon Davison.

The commentary will be interesting if you’re a fan, but whereas some film makers talk about what’s happening in the film as it plays, the creative team relate stories about the production from the day. You won’t learn much about the filming except repeated jokes about how cheap it was.

But you will learn some interesting trivia, like the fact that the idea didn’t come from the 70’s Airport disaster movies but a 1957 film called Zero Hour — to which Flying High contains countless references including entire lines.

As the American Film Institute (probably funded by the studio) says — ‘One of the top ten funniest movies ever made!’

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