Directed by Jessy Terrero. Starring Tom Arnold, Kevin Hart, Method Man, Snoop Dogg, K.D. Aubert, D.L. Hughley, John Witherspoon. (2004, R, 86 min.)
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., May 28, 2004
Excruciating in the extreme, this is the nadir of urban comedies thus far: a trashy, crass, and painfully unfunny airline disaster of a film for those who think 2 Live Crew was the zenith of intellectual hip-hop. The fact that the cast includes real talent – D.L. Hughley, for starters, and the sporadically funny Snoop Dogg – only serves to make the rest of the production that much more humorless in contrast. Those minor quibbles aside, if you’re looking for a film in which a puppy gets sucked into a jet engine, a man’s ass gets sucked out of an airplane toilet, or a nonstop barrage of gag reflex-triggering sexual hijinks rules the show, then this is your lucky day. Hart plays Nashawn Wade, who wins a $100 million settlement against a mainstream air carrier after an embarrassing freak accident nearly costs him his glutes. Newly wealthy, he decides to stick it to the man by forming his own, more soulful airline, complete with a stoned-to-the-gills Snoop Dogg as pilot Capt. Mack, hoochie hostesses, and the pièce de résistance – a gigantic purple plane decked out with low-rider hydraulics, an on-board disco, and enough funky eye candy to blind the Beast with 1,000 Eyes. Amid all the chaos of his plane’s maiden voyage, Nashawn has to deal with his ex-girlfriend (in a contrived subplot that goes nowhere fast) and Tom Arnold and family as the movie’s White People. There are also plenty of homophobic jokes, borderline racist attacks on dark-skinned foreigners, plenty of African-American genitalia clichés, and, god help us all, John Witherspoon getting nasty with a baked potato. I’m all for sophomoric humor, but Soul Plane’s submoronic yuks grate like a belt sander on raw pubis, hammering the same strain of witlessness over your head again and again until you feel queasy. The Wayans brothers have mined similar veins of weapons-grade humor in their Scary Movie series, but even those tawdry laughs seem chaste and uplifting when compared to this travesty. Direct lifts from the Airplane series (and one from Weekend at Bernie’s) barely enliven the otherwise mortally wounded scriptwork courtesy of Bo Zenga and Chuck Wilson, which somehow manages to place the film’s various scantily clad females on pedestals and then nastily proceed to look up their skirts. To his credit, Hart gives a game performance as the beleaguered Nashawn, but the rest of this film’s cast barely manages to do much more than holler a lot and run around doing plenty of nothing. Come fly with me? Thanks, no, I’d rather pay cross-country cab fare.