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Bad taste, unfunny jokes and annoying cast members doom 'Soul Plane'

Making a Boeing 747 Prince purple, complete with hopping hydraulics and Snoop Dogg as the pilot, makes for the best joke to be found in Soul Plane, a comedy with something in the neighborhood of three good jokes, and 43 that repel all goodwill towards the movie. The setup is something that begs to be enjoyable and funny, while the execution is nothing but an exercise in bad taste--and yet another cinematic reason to get Tom Arnold on a toilet after his pooping stint in Austin Powers.

When shrill airline passenger Nashawn (Kevin Hart) gets his ass stuck in a toilet during another one of the film's many bathroom jokes, and his dog gets sucked into one of the jet's engines, he sues for the big money. After securing an enormous award, he decides to start an airline for black people, with pimped-out airplanes, a low-class section with coin-operated lockers for storage and malt liquor for consumption.

Some of the initial setup humor works just fine, especially when dealing with the customized plane. However, the humor degenerates to the point where a blind man (John Witherspoon) has his fingers in a baked potato, believing that he is sexually pleasuring the woman in the seat next to him and getting a "stinky pinky." Not funny. Not even close.

Also not funny is Mo'Nique as a security guard talking trash at the X-ray checkpoint, giving good looking men full cavity searches and harassing anybody who crosses her path. She's so annoying that screen time spent without her feels like sweet relief.

Most of the jokes that work are thanks to Snoop Dogg, who got his pilot training in prison and isn't against taking large tokes off of fat joints while flying planes, taking full advantage of the autopilot feature. Dogg's Captain Mack also favors hallucinogenic mushrooms over the cuisine being served on the plane, and he doesn't mind giving the passengers a scare by flying close to mountains. Also getting a couple of laughs is Ryan Pinkston (the little wise-ass from TV's Punk'd) who simply has a good screen presence, doing as much as he can with his thin material.

Sadly, Dogg has a bit part, and most of the movie leaves us dealing with Tom Arnold as Mr. Hunkee, bumped from his initial flight back from Cracker Land with his family and forced to take up seats in the Low Class Section. His little girl (Arielle Kebbel) has just turned 18, and she declares that she's all ready to start "teabagging," even if she doesn't know what it is. This enables director Jessy Terrero to give us Tom Arnold in cranked-up, anxious mode, something we've never seen before.

The film Soul Plane obviously owes the most to is Airplane!, but that's not to say that the film is in the same league as the comedy classic. It's only to say that many of the plot devices and gimmicks made famous by Airplane have been stolen for this one, including the old "Who is going to land the plane?" shtick when Captain Snoop Dogg succumbs to the mushrooms. If Robert Hays' Ted Striker had emerged to save the day, that would've been a great joke. No such luck.

Racial stereotypes abound, especially during a poorly executed joke in which a Middle Eastern man boards the plane to the horror of everybody onboard. If there was a tasteful way to pull off this joke without making the viewer feel dirty and embarrassed, Soul Plane didn't find it. In fact, Soul Plane doesn't do much beyond making the viewer long for the days where Jessy Terrero wasn't directing movies, and Arnold's only claim to fame was being Roseanne's husband.

Soul Plane
Rated NR

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