Airplane! is well, quite obviously a spoof movie. From the opening sequence featuring the tail of the aircraft through clouds with the Jaws music in the background, it really set the scene.
Like much of the film, the main plot revolves around a cliché. Robert Hayes plays the lovesick Ted Striker who spontaneously decides to follow his stewardess ex-girlfriend Elaine Dickinson (Julie Hagerty) on her last flight to Chicago in a bid to win her back. Along the way - in another cliché - the plane runs into trouble where half of the passengers (and all 3 pilots) are taken sick because of airline food. It's left to Striker, who just happens to be a pilot (albeit a disgraced one), to land the plane.
Usually, I detest these types of movies. Scary Movie, Not Another Teen Movie, and Meet The Spartans are all awful films whose humour are too brash. In Airplane! there is so much going on in the background of the scenes that it is quite easy to overlook the subtlety of the comedy. In one of the opening scenes the captain picks up a magazine from a shelf labelled "Whacking Material" before returning it. Nothing obviously points out the label, but it is there to those who are willing to look past the childish humour.
While many people will hate Airplane! for its ability to constantly throw a joke in your face, I find that is part of its charm. Combine that with the other humour, hidden away in the background and it becomes a film that could be seen all over again without too much problem.