Soul Plane (2004) / Comedy
MPAA Rated: R for strong sexual content, language, crude humor, and some drug use
Running Time: 86 min.
Cast: Kevin Hart, Tom Arnold, Method Man, Snoop Dogg, Arielle Kebbel, Ryan Pinkston, K.D. Aubert, Missi Pyle, Sommore, Sofia Vergara, Godfrey, Mo'Nique, Loni Love, Angell Conwell, Brian Hooks, D.L. Hughley, Gary Anthony Williams, John Witherspoon, Stephen Keys, Terry Crews, Chris Robinson (cameo), Big Boy (cameo), Karl Malone (cameo), East Side Boys (cameo), Ying Yang Twins (cameo), La La (cameo), Tera Patrick (cameo)
Director: Jessy Terrero
Screenplay: Bo Zenga, Chuck Wilson
Review published July 11, 2006
Yes, the following is an actual plot summary.
Nashawn Wade (Kevin Hart, Scary Movie 3) is an African-American man who sues an airline after his ass gets stuck in their airplane's toilet and his dog gets mulched in the engine on the wing of the plane. He wins a $100 million settlement, which he promptly uses to start his own pimped-out airline, which will cater to a predominantly African-American clientele, called N.W.A. (Nashawn Wade Airlines, but the Niggaz with Attitude reference will be understood by the target audience). The plane is equipped with spinning rims, hydraulics, velvet interior, malt liquor, club parties, strippers galore, and, of course, an extra-wide toilet seat.
Irreverently politically incorrect, Soul Plane (a play off of the title to the long-running TV show, “Soul Train”) deems no joke as too offensive. White people are ridiculed (they are from Cracker-land), Black people are stereotyped (fried chicken, malt liquor, and basketball are hot pursuits), and gay people are slurred continuously. The usual jokes are trotted out: Black men are well-endowed, Black women like to get their freak on, white people are afraid yet oddly still attracted to the Black experience, and gay men like to wear lipstick and hit on every available man on board.
As you can imagine, with such a huge ensemble cast and a short running time, Soul Plane amounts to very little but bursts of skit comedy, sort of an African-American version of Airplane!, except with jokes that aim as low as possible. There are only two real rooting interests in the story, both of them too feeble to serve as main plot elements. First, there are Nashawn’s attempts to get back with his girl, Giselle (Aubert, In the Mix), after a misunderstanding. The other is landing the plane when both of the pilots are incapacitated (a fairly blatant event "borrowed" from Airplane!). The rest of the film involves bathroom humor, characters itching to get laid, and gags designed to "pimp-ify" the airline experience.
I'll admit, some of the jokes are funny, a few I'm a bit ashamed to have laughed at, but there just isn't enough real inspiration to take what should have been a recurring skit comedy on TV and make it into a full-length feature release. If you like your humor crude, lewd, and semi-nude, you might be able to get a few frequent flyer miles from this lowbrow concoction. It plays to a defined urban American audience, with references that only those that are "down" will understand (i.e. none of Airplane’s "jive" subtitles for people that don't know the lingo), with plenty of rap music gags, drug references, and lots of trendy euphemisms for doing the nasty.
After experiencing the film, I'll have to give at least one politically incorrect assessment, keeping in the spirit of things, as it were. There's a gag where a large Middle Eastern man gets on board the plane, to the shock and dismay of the rest of the passengers experiencing a knee-jerk anti-Arab 9/11 flashback. With jokes this crude and characters this obnoxious, if there were one film where you wish a suicide terrorist would take hold of a plane, this might be it.
If this is still a trip you want to take, be sure to secure the location of that air sickness bag directly in front of you, because with jokes this tasteless and focus this scattershot, Soul Plane is one hell of a bumpy flight.
©2006 Vince Leo