|Soul Plane (Unrated Mile High Edition)|
|Written by Paul Lingas|
|Tuesday, 07 September 2004|
The quirky thing about comedy is that if you don’t set things up or give any sort of context within which things can be funny, they’re not. Such is the case with the utterly flat “Soul Plane.” While there are many comedians in the movie who are funny by themselves, almost nothing draws laughs in this tired exercise in how to blow comedic timing.
The film starts out with a young man named Nashawn Wade (Kevin Hart), who has a completely unbelievable accident while in flight and successfully sues the airline for $100 million. Nashawn’s cousin Muggsy (Method Man) is extremely excited about the settlement and offers his own thoughts as to how to spend the money, but Nashawn has something else in mind. What better way to capitalize on this newfound wealth and rid oneself of the frustrations of air travel than buying one’s own airline? Thus is Nashawn Wade Airlines founded and the joke NWA is beaten and flogged. I just want to point out how many times they say “NWA Airlines” in the film, essentially saying the word airlines twice. Nobody says TWA Airlines. It’s either TWA or Trans World Airlines. This is just an example of the carelessness that occurs when people who aren’t quite equipped to handle it make a feature film. But I digress.
We soon meet Mr. Hunkee (Tom Arnold), his children Heather (Arielle Kebbel) and Billy (Ryan Pinkston, who most will recognize from MTV’s Punk’d) and potential mother-in-law Barbara (Missy Pyle). Anyway, on their way home to New York from Crackerland (yawn), they need to get a different flight and end up booked on NWA. As they enter the Terminal Malcolm X (yawn), they realize that the terminal and airline are catering to black people. This is where the stereotypes start in earnest and though there is potential for a lot of laughs, nothing is really very funny because it isn’t presented that way. At the security checkpoint are two women, one of them played by comedienne Mo’nique, who do nothing but dance and yell at people who come through the metal detectors. There is nothing funny here. Let’s move on.
Nashawn is reasonably concerned about his airline’s maiden flight, as Muggsy has hired an African co-pilot name Gaemon (Godfrey) pronounced gay-man (har har) and a suspicious pilot named Captain Mack (Snoop Dogg), who seems more intent on getting high than on flying. Nashawn also runs into a gorgeous ex-flame who Nashawn had split up with for her own good (of course). The travails of Nashawn, Mr. Hunkee’s familial soap opera and various other inconsequential matters make up the bulk, or lack thereof, of the plot.
In case you haven’t caught on yet, this is a bad movie. Not only is it not funny, but the acting is pretty nonexistent, the script is full of holes, and most of the humor relies on sight or situational gags, only one of which is funny. Here’s an example of a gag that has no set-up and therefore fails to provide humor: it turns out that, after the plane has already taken off and reached cruising altitude, Captain Mack begins reacting with fright and discomfort because he is afraid of heights. One can just imagine a few people sitting around thinking about what a gas it would be for a commercial airline pilot to be afraid of heights. Imagine the possibilities. Taken on its own though, this is not funny, and because the joke is never set up, it fails to amuse and instead the viewer is left to wonder why the pilot never mentioned this or how he even managed to take off, let alone get up to 33,000 feet, without reacting to his phobia. This is the state of pretty much every joke here and I don’t think they would be funny even under the influence of either legal or illegal substances. Also included are the requisite amounts of pot jokes, white jokes, black jokes, black African jokes, sex jokes, shots of bottoms, shots of cleavage and dance sequences.
For a movie that isn’t very old, the transfer has a lot of blemishes in it. There are dust spots at all the reel changes, and a few nicks and scratches throughout. The sound is good, but a 5.1 mix seems rather unnecessary for a low-brow comedy. Most things are front-loaded into the center speaker anyway and, with the exception of the music (by The RZA), there are few important sound effects or backgrounds. The Dolby 5.1 is all that’s here anyway, another thing the DVD has going against it. The deleted scenes are brainless and should include the entire movie. On a positive note, the outtakes prove funny, as most outtakes do, especially when comedians are on set. This reviewer thinks outtakes should be a part of every DVD, comedy or not. Photo galleries are sparse and completely benign in terms of interesting content. The “Survivor” safety video plays in the movie and is presented here in its entirety.
The two featurettes are cut from the same material and feature some behind-the-scenes footage, as well as interviews with director Jessy Terrero and most of the actors. The only real information presented has to do with the casting. Otherwise, these overly long featurettes are nothing more than a mutual admiration society for those involved. The one redeeming feature is the cast commentary that features director Terrero and actors Arnold, Hart and Godfrey (known to many as the current 7-Up guy). While there isn’t a whole lot of information here and they do spend a great deal of time talking about people we don’t know, there are a lot of very funny moments as the actors get a chance to rip on their own work.
In short, “Soul Plane” is lacking in humor, comedy, acting, writing, direction and everything else that constitutes a movie. This plane is doomed to stay in the hangar. Plus, odds are that you’ve already seen a bootlegged copy of the movie, as those editions came out about two weeks before the film’s release in theaters, in a well-publicized example of piracy. MGM doesn’t need to worry any more, though, as they were just bought by Sony Pictures Entertainment.