"Airplane!" premiered on July 2, 1980. With a budget of $3.5 million it went on to make nearly $200 million in sales and has influenced a multitude of comedians on both sides of the camera.
"Surely You Can’t Be Serious" is the first-ever oral history of the making of "Airplane!" by the creators, and of the beginnings of the ZAZ trio (Zucker, Abrahams, Zucker) - charting the rise of their comedy troupe Kentucky Fried Theater in Madison, Wisconsin, all the way to premiere night. The directors explain what drew them to filmmaking and in particular, comedy. With anecdotes, behind the scenes trivia, and never-before-revealed factoids - these titans of comedy filmmaking unpack everything from how they persuaded Peter Graves to be in the movie after he thought the script was a piece of garbage, how Lorna Patterson auditioned for the stewardess role in the back seat of Jerry’s Volvo, and how Leslie Nielsen’s pranks got the entire crew into trouble, to who really wrote the jive talk. The book also features testimonials and personal anecdotes from well-known faces in the film, television, and comedy sphere - proving how influential Airplane! has been from day one.
Four decades after its release, "Airplane!" continues to make new generations laugh. Its many one-liners and visual gags have worked their way into the mainstream culture. This fully organic expansion of the ZAZ trio’s fan-base, prompted solely by word-of-mouth, comes as no surprise to longtime fans. When all around us is in flux - laughter is priceless.
I think Airplane! is a hoot and have seen it many times so I thought it would be fun to get the scoop about it. There was a lot of interesting info about how they found the perfect actors for the parts (some they had to convince and some played against their usual personas), how they had to convince someone to actually let them make the movie and more.
I'm not a fan of interview-style books (like you're reading what the authors are saying) and didn't know that would be the format. I liked that there were excerpts from people other than the authors giving their thoughts about the movie, whether they were actors in the movie or people the movie influenced (like Weird Al Yankovic, Jimmy Kimmel, David Letterman, etc.).
There was a lot of time devoted to the Kentucky Fried Theatre and the movie, Kentucky Fried (I've never heard of it). I know it was there to provide background about the authors but it was like too much. It seemed like the book was more about the authors than Airplane!.