Breaking out of a mental hospital, Ted Striker races to stop the launch of the new Lunar Shuttle passenger ship, as he knows of the faulty computer ROK 9000. Failing that, he must get onboard and try to land it. And also deal with his ex ex girlfriend Elaine.
While the team behind spoof masterpiece Airplane! declined to return, this inferior sequel, at least, lands as many jokes as it crashes. Mainly because director-writer Ken Finckleman, who’d previously failed to grasp the obvious with Grease 2, is sensible enough not to tamper with the jet-propelled (sorry) mania of the first.
Less of a direct parody, and thus loosening its grip on the genuine phobia of flying, this is, if anything, more demented still. It simply doesn’t stop. While its stars maintain the strategy of playing it dead straight, we are assaulted by a Blitzkrieg of sight-gags, one-liners, in-jokes, scatological mummery and spoof references to other movies (Rocky, 2001 and ET most obviously) many of them with the stale whiff of leftovers.
The cameos, too, have less resonance and care taken with them: Lloyd Bridges, Raymond Burr and Peter Graves feel sidelined, the joke no longer about who they used to be, but just that they’ve turned up again. Only William Shatner is given room to truly undermine his status, something he has continued for the rest of is career.
Yet, when it hits it really hits and can boast quite possibly the finest sight-gag in film history, when Shatner’s face, seemingly on a screen, turns out to be the real thing on the other side of door. And who can’t resist a smirk at the confusion caused in a conversation between Captain Oveur, Mr. Unger and Mr. Dunn? Indeed, you have to respect the skill in writing a script that continuously self-detonates: “Ted Striker? Never heard of him. That’s not exactly true. We were like brothers.”
Very hit and miss and not a patch on the first spoof but when a joke strikes home it'll have you going for a while.