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Soul Plane

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2004, MGM
Kevin Hart, Snoop Dogg, Tom Arnold, Method Man
Jessy Terrero
MPAA Rating:
[R] language, sexuality, nudity
87 minutes

The passengers aboard a new airline's maiden flight face a slew of misadventures.

What's Good
much funnier than its formulaic premise would suggest
Snoop Dogg and Mo'Nique are hilarious

What's Bad
some lulls in the comedy
a few unfunny scenes don't end soon enough

by Michael Lee and Andrew Manning (May 2004)

Nashawn Wade (Kevin Hart) is an entrepreneur with a surplus of ideas. Unfortunately, none of them ever seem to pay off. But after his ass is injured by an airplane toilet and his dog is killed in a comedic cargo mishap, a jury awards him $100 million. Wanting to put that money to good use rather than blow it on another failed business, he decides to start his own airline. (Yeah, yeah, I know all you Wall Street types are laughing at the logic of that move.)

Soul Plane follows the misadventures of the maiden flight of Wade's new airline. Dubbed NWA and decidedly purple, it immediately becomes the funkiest way to fly the friendly skies. The upstart airway is staffed by a cast of equally colorful characters: two female security guards who spend most of their day talking trash; hot stewardesses in tiny skirts teamed up with a flamboyantly fruity male flight attendant named Flame; an ex-con pilot (Snoop Dogg) aptly named Captain Mack; an insecure co-pilot who, to prove he's a real man despite being named Gaeman, claims that "everybody will be pregnant by the end of this flight"; and a chatty bathroom attendant (D.L. Hughley) who doesn't mind hanging around while patrons do their business.

To exploit the fish-out-of-water theme, a lone family of white folks gets rerouted onto the predominantly black NWA. The head of this household, Elvis Hunkee (Tom Arnold), is trying to enjoy his vacation, but his tramp girlfriend comes down with a severe case of jungle fever, his dorky son goes full-blown wigger, and his cute daughter turns 18 during the flight, just in time to make good on her threats of wild sexual abandon.

The plane itself is a giant pimpmobile in the sky. Tricked out with all sorts of hydraulics, it also features its own nightclub, an expansive first class section, a formidable business class, and a no-class low class. And with Wade's degenerate, scamming cousin Muggsy (Method Man) setting up an in-flight casino and strip club, there is no shortage of activities on the voyage from Los Angeles to New York.

With its slew of stereotypically outlandish characters, Soul Plane seems like it would be corny and unoriginal. But in spite of a few lulls like a sappy romance between Wade and his lost love, the movie is rowdy and funny. Admittedly, the various antics of the ensemble cast are largely unrelated--everyone on the plane seems to be doing their own thing. But by rapidly rattling off scene after scene, Soul Plane ensures that audiences won't have to suffer through the weaker material for long. The script fires off more hits than misses, so this approach of "let's throw it all out there and see what flies" actually works.

Sadly, John Witherspoon's character of a blind guy with wandering hands is humorless and repetitive, and a couple trying to get their freak on mile high style gets old quickly. But on the upside, Mo'Nique and Loni Love are a riot as a pair of security attendants who only stop their personal conversations long enough to threaten violence, humiliation, and sexual harassment against customers who cross them. Also trying to steal the show is none other than the man himself, Snoop-Dee-Oh-Double-Gee--his Captain Mack is an ironically acrophobic playa out of Pelican Bay who is all about gettin' stoned. Meanwhile, his volatile relationship with co-pilot Gaeman comically demonstrates that African Americans don't necessarily jive with African Africans.

The film's peak conflict comes when Captain Mack OD's on some wicked 'shrooms and Gaeman gets knocked the hell out. So it's up to a bunch of inexperienced idiots to land their high flyin' hoopty, with the help of a bimbo stewardess who has a unique method of remembering the cockpit controls.

Soul Plane's sense of humor is often sharper than what most people would expect. This could have easily been a bunch of lame puns and feeble sight gags. But instead, it's an entertaining comedy with its share of flagrant language and raunchy laughs.

Rating: 7 out of 10 (0=Abysmal, 5=Average, 10=Excellent)

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