** (out of 5)
May 28, 2004
Samuel L. Jackson as LOUIS HINDS
Bernie Mac as FLOYD HENDERSON
Sharon Leal as CLEO
Adam Herschman as PHILLIP
Sean Hayes as DANNY EPSTEIN
Affion Crockett as LESTER
Jennifer Coolidge as ROSALEE
Directed by: Malcolm D. Lee
BY KEVIN CARR
One of the reasons I like the film “Eurotrip” earlier this year (and I seemed to be one of the few people in American that did) was that it delivered on everything it promised. As a young, teenage sex comedy, “Eurotrip” had all the standard jokes, plus plenty of jiggle factor.
Okay, I know many of you might think I’m just being a pig, but hear me out…
If you have an R-rated film about four college students tooling around Europe, it ain’t a bad idea to show some skin. You would expect this as you would expect plenty of gore in the latest Freddy Krueger film or plenty of kissing in a romantic comedy. It doesn’t matter what the genre is, there are certain factors that are good to have in a film.
“Soul Plane” cops out on some of these things. While there’s plenty of ghetto booty in tight stewardess skirts, the jiggle factor is surprisingly low. I’ve seen more revealing outfits on late-night music videos on BET.
In many ways, “Soul Plane” is the ultimate targeted demographic movie. But unlike the “Barbershop” and “Friday” films, which are clearly aimed at the urban demographic, “Soul Plane” tries to do too much and fails. Isn’t it enough to have all the major black actors of the day – from Snoop Dogg as the chronic-loving pilot to John Witherspoon as the blind man in first class – make an appearance on the plane? The only one missing is Ice Cube, and that was a wise choice on his part.
The biggest problem with “Soul Plane” is that it actually tries to tell a story. Contrary to popular belief, plot is not always essential. There have been plenty of great films made with flimsy or nonexistent storylines. Most of them are comedies, of course – like “Airplane,” the “Austin Powers” movies or anything from Monty Python. But there are films in other genres that work without tremendous plots, like “Hellboy” and “Van Helsing.”
With “Soul Plane,” I was expecting an urban version of “Airplane.” I was expecting a hard core spoof that kept you laughing through the entire film. What I got was more of an urban version of “Office Space” which was filled with a half hour of really, really funny gags but then suddenly grew a plot that brought the film to a screeching halt. (Well, at least “Soul Plane” doesn’t have Jennifer Aniston in it.)
It seemed at one point, they just ran out of jokes and started pulling a plot out of thin air: After Nashawn (Kevin Hart) is almost sucked through the sewer of the plane, he sues the airline for a kajillion dollars and wins. He uses his settlement money to start his own airline. But this airline will be different. It will cater to the customer with soul. The plane itself is pimped out with spinners on the rims and hydraulics on the wheels. Nashawn is flying his plane on its maiden flight, but runs into his ex-girlfriend (K.D. Aubert ) on board. While trying to keep his airline afloat, he also tries to patch things up with her.
As thin as it sounds, there was too much energy expended to think story and characters – especially at the end. I don’t care about Nashawn getting back together with his girlfriend. I don’t care to see Mr. Hunkee (Tom Arnold) make up with his rebel daughter (Arielle Kebbel). I don’t really care what happened to anyone on that plane, so the “how can we land this thing” scenario didn’t work. It was presented more as a real plot device instead of a spoof on other “how can we land this thing” ending like the original “Airplane.”
“Soul Plane” misses its mark in another way – bathroom humor. The movie opens with Kevin Hart taking a trip to the bathroom on a flight and almost gets sucked into the septic system. Now, I’m a huge fan of bathroom humor. I think the campfire scene in “Blazing Saddles” and the mike-in-the-bathroom scene in “The Naked Gun” are examples of cinematic genius. But I just didn’t find Hart on a toilet all that funny. While some comedians will insist that any hack off the street can tell bathroom humor jokes, this film proves that there is a talent involved.
And that talent wasn’t in this movie.