(In theaters, May 2004) Some films are good and funny. This one isn’t so good, but it’s twice as funny. An urban (read; “black”) take-off on the whole airplane disaster genre, Soul Plane is gloriously silly and doesn’t even try to hide it. There’s a joke every ten seconds and plenty of them miss the target (ie;whole subplots go nowhere in an dull fashion). But those who manage to hit the target actually hit pretty well: it’s hard not to be swept into the whole “airline with soul” premise. While some would like to make you believe that Soul Plane wallows in ethnic clichés, it’s more appropriate to say that it takes us in a very specific fantasy world packed with good music, infectious fun and bootylicious bodies. Few other movies of 2004 can match the sheer sex-appeal of Soul Plane‘s K.D. Aubert, Angell Conwell and Sofía Vergara. (There is zero nudity despite the film’s R-rating. Talk about a waste: even Airplane! had some.) This being said, it’s zaftig comedienne Mo’Nique Imes-Jackson who grabs the film’s best moments as an overzealous security guard. Sure, some moments go over the top and should have been trimmed out: Taste-wise, it’s an equal-opportunity offender. But why care when it’s so silly? “At ease, ladies” says Captain Snoop Dog upon boarding, and this kind of sexy insouciance is exactly the right frame of mind for Soul Plane. Step on the plane, and don’t forget to visit the upstairs club.
(Second viewing, On DVD, December 2004) Some films really shouldn’t be watched more than once, and that goes double for lame comedies. Once the initial surprise of comedies has been blown, viewers have the right to be a little bit harsher on the actual quality of the film, and Soul Plane truly doesn’t do well at a second glance. For one thing, a second viewing clearly highlights the jarring dead moments when the main romance kicks in at the film loses all sense of humour. A similar “filial love” plot thread also falls flat in the context of a silly comedy that live or die on the strength of its pacing. Fortunately, the rest of the film’s silliness is preserved, though the repetitive nature of the film’s jokes starts grating midway through. I still like the booty, the silliness, the cheap gags and the performances of quite a number of the actresses. But it’s not nearly as The DVD doesn’t bring much more to the experience, and even hurts as the commentary track has an extra value of exactly nil. Warning! The DVD film is different from the version shown in theatres: Though I can’t remember the exact details, I clearly remember at least one theatrical scene between Tom Arnold and Mo’Nique that’s not on the DVD (has the old silly phobia of interracial romance reared its ugly bigoted head once more?), and the “unrated” version adds a few T&A shots –none of which do much to justify the unrating. (In fact, DVD reviews report that the R version and the unrated version have different outtakes. What the heck?)