Airplane Mode made me feel old. Not because I didn’t recognize most of the YouTubers that fill out the cast, but because I was constantly startled and taken aback by the film’s hyper and annoying immaturity.
I was familiar with the film’s leading man, Logan Paul. He headlined YouTube Premium’s YA franchise The Thinning, as well as made headlines for disrespectful behaviour (including his infamous stint in Japan’s Aokigahara forest where he videotaped and gawked at the corpse of a suicide victim). I’ve had no interest in following Paul’s online career, but I have kept tabs on his film career. His performances in The Thinning and The Thinning: New World Order have been underwhelming, but I always thought that was because he was working within a downbeat register. Airplane Mode, a comedy he co-wrote with his brother Jake as well as with directors David Dinetz and Dylan Trussell, would feature the star in his original element; allowing Paul to take pride in his own lunky brand. Logan Paul takes this opportunity and runs with it, but it doesn’t fare well for others (including the directors) who feel too comfortable among such random comedy.
The filmmaking of Airplane Mode follows the blueprint of the 1980’s parody film Airplane! in that it offers absurd jokes at rapid-fire speed. This style of separated comedy is a good choice for Airplane Mode considering the film itself has a low attention span and is eager to give fidgety movie goers new things to laugh at. The problem is that the humour completely flies through the stratosphere of absurdity, segregating itself into an area that is too damn weird for words. I’ll try: Logan Paul exclusively communicates telepathically to homosexuals, termites create their own pornography, a lactating Nick Swardson steals a baby, a daughter french-kisses her father and mother, sight gags with snot and vomit – I better stop, this is fun for no one.
One after another, irreverent jokes are launched at movie goers that are either too heavy-handed and obvious or are too strange to laugh at. The filmmakers are also convinced that being silly gives them a pass to be casually racist, misogynistic, and sexist. Imagine 2004’s Soul Plane, but much more ignorant. The film is obnoxious through its volume of jokes, but also through literal volume. Excessive screaming and shouting is so normalized in Airplane Mode, the audience will forget what an actual conversation should sound like.
Comedies featuring YouTube culture at the forefront seem to have a flawed understanding of comedy – the louder, the better. I can’t confidently comment on if it works online but, in a movie, it shows a complete disregard for general audiences. Just like watching an annoying advertisement on YouTube, Airplane Mode made me wish for an option to “skip”. You’re still privy to such an option – just don’t watch the movie.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie