If you read this blog last Friday then you know that I was off to Mumbai for the taping of the first ever Indian People’s Choice Awards. And if you have consumed any media since then you know that a whirling dervish named Sandy wreaked havoc on the eastern seaboard. (And if you haven’t been consuming any media, it’s probably because Sandy knocked your power out.)
All flights from Mumbai to NYC were canceled, so I went the other way around the globe, traveling to Kuala Lumpur and then Tokyo and then finally LA, where I have been safely ensconced for the week. My flights were long and exhausting, but they gave me ample time to finally watch season one of Homeland. Okay, I get it now. It totally deserved the Outstanding Drama Emmy as well as acting awards for Claire Danes and Damian Lewis. Color me obsessed. I also had plenty of time to make a dent in the new Tom Wolfe book, Back to Blood. I loved Bonfire of the Vanities and A Man in Full and even I Am Charlotte Simmons, so tackling Back to Blood was pretty much a given.
But books and videos (and sleep) only made up a portion of my in-flight experience. While hunkering down for three long segments on Malaysia Air, I also had plenty of time to think about my favorite movie scenes that took place on an airplane. Sure, there are the obvious ones where an airplane is essential to the flick — like Airplane! and Red Eye and Flightplan — but I chose to focus on movies where just a scene or two took place up in the air. Like Up in the Air. By no means is this a definitive list, but herein are the scenes that came to mind during my Ambien-induced haze.
When Harry Met Sally (1989)
After their Chicago to New York road trip, college acquaintances Sally Albright (Meg Ryan) and Harry Burns (Billy Crystal) assume they’ll never see each other again. But then they bump into each other at the airport, and Harry worms his way into a seat next to Sally during their flight. He tells her he’s engaged, demonstrates “the white man’s overbite,” and explains the difference between men and women (women like to cuddle after sex and men don’t.) We all know how their antagonistic relationship evolves into friendship and then romance; this airplane scene is a classic moment in one of the all time classic romantic comedies.
A Very Brady Sequel (1996)
Perhaps it’s due to my nostalgia for the original series, but I absolutely loved both Brady Bunch movies. In this movie sequel, the family goes to Hawaii just like the TV family did in 1972. On the plane, Greg whips out a guitar and the kids dance in the aisles singing, “Good Time Music.” The other passengers aren’t as charmed as I was, and the flight attendant makes the following announcement: “May I have your attention, please. Will those of you singing and dancing in the aisles please shut up.” The Brady kids return to their seats with one final flourish of cheesy ’70s choreography. I’m smiling just thinking about it.
Valentine’s Day (2010)
This star studded Garry Marshall rom-com isn’t exactly Oscar-bait, but it’s not without its charms. While the characters played by a cadre of A-listers navigate their love lives on the ground in LA (Alba & Kutcher, Biel & Foxx, Garner & Dempsey, Hathaway & Grace, etc. etc.), Holden (Bradley Cooper) and Kate (Julia Roberts) share a sweet rapport as seat mates on a flight bound for LAX. We assume that romance is about to blossom between them, only to learn that Kate is flying home from her military duties to spend Valentine’s Day with her son, and Holden is returning to his recently out-of-the-closet football player partner Sean (Eric Dane.) In a movie filled with predictable cliches, the airplane scenes between Cooper and Roberts are sweetly touching.
Relegated to coach while the rest of the bridal party was in first class, Annie (Kristen Wiig) combines sedatives with a glass of scotch — as provided by her nemesis Helen (Rose Byrne) — and hilarity ensues. It’s the perfect showcase for Wiig’s brilliant comedic talents. I can’t contain my laughter when Annie stumbles into the first class section to visit the other gals and is kicked out by the bitchy male flight attendant. As she pulls back the curtains separating the cabins she says, “This should be open because it’s civil rights. This is the ’90s.” (It’s 2011.) There are countless hilarious moments in Bridesmaids; the airplane scene is comedy gold.
So there you have ‘em, the movie airplane scenes that resonate with me. What in-flight movie moments would pop into your head during a long international flight?
A Very Brady Sequel
When Harry Met Sally