“CAPTAIN BIFF LIKES TO KEEP HIS RUNWAYS CLEAR…” STEWARDESS SCHOOL

STEWARDESS SCHOOL

See the at Amazon or at IMDB

Pros: Has its funny moments

Cons: Not exactly a classy sort of film

Combining the airline disaster formula established in films like (and/or any of its sequels) with the misfit comedy of Police Academy (and/or any of its increasingly dumb sequels), the 1986 comedy Stewardess School has the imprint of the ‘80s written all over it – hell, since it makes a mockery of airlines and their security measures, there’s no way the film would even be made in today’s cultural environment. The film follows a ragtag group of students who find themselves at the titular establishment after their lives hit rock bottom. Most of the characters exist within the confines of strict stereotypes: there’s the overly plucky blonde who comes from a long line of airline hostesses, the bubbly former prostitute, the klutz, a nearly-blind would-be pilot and his womanizing buddy among others. Inevitably, this gang barely makes it through their courses before they’re sent for some impromptu on-the-job training when a near-bankrupt airline company needs a “crack” team of service personnel to ensure that an FAA inspection goes by without a hitch. Needless to say, this may not be the best idea considering the caliber of graduates coming out of the Weidermeyer Stewardess Academy…

not exactly geniuses
The usual band of misfit toys.

Written and directed by Ken Blancato, (unsurprisingly??) whose only film credit this was, Stewardess School operates mainly in the realm of lowbrow, sophomoric humor. Within five minutes of the film starting, we get a fart joke – and it’s not an especially good sign that in hindsight, this is one of the film’s better, more memorable moments. Later on, we’re mostly left to chuckle at a blind man’s aggressive use of his cane against anything and everything around him, watch as the former prostitute uses her skills to “calm down” a hysterical passenger, or hide our eyes when the obligatory ladies man character strikes out repeatedly in pursuit of some tail. To be truthful, Blancato’s script is amusing on a certain level – provided that a viewer is willing to check his brain in at the door. The fact that this was made during the (almost) anything goes ‘80s only adds to the entertainment value.

Despite having some legitimately funny individual moments, Stewardess School is none too good as a piece of cinema. The airplane sets seen during the film are pretty lousy, and the fact that the identification patches worn by educators at the Academy seem to be taped on their costumes says more about the nature of this production than I ever could (Wikipedia’s report of this film having a budget of $8,000,000 seems unbelievable to me – musta been a lot of toot flowing on set if that number is correct). Additionally, the skit-like approach to setting up the comic scenes becomes tiresome down the line, and I don’t think the film offers a viewer good bang for his buck. Compared to films like the vaguely similar Airplane! or even the under-appreciated Top Secret! for instance, Blancato’s film seems quite sluggish and even dull.

those crazy cadets
Those crazy cadets…always getting into trouble…

In the end, there’s nothing that can quite overcome the fact that Blancato’s script offers up little in the originality department. This film plays out exactly as one would expect, and even in terms of its humor, it’s mining material that’s been done better elsewhere. Considering that there was a whole line of sexploitation features relating to stewardesses produced from the late ‘60s onward and the fact that the whole “hot airline hostess” thing has been ingrained into the popular consciousness, I’ve got to say that Blancato’s film is pretty tame in the sex department. Sure, we do get a bit of topless nudity in the mandatory shower scene, but it’s all provided by nameless supporting actresses. The viewer entering this film in the hope of finding some quality T&A is likely to be very disappointed.

Judy
Despite some suggestive scenes and innuendo, this film is actually fairly tame in terms of its sexual content.

Though the film is no masterpiece by a long shot, the cast assembled here (many of them television veterans) is nothing if not generally likable. The film’s narrative mainly revolves around the characters of Philo and George (respectively played by Brett Cullen and Donald Most) who recently flunked out of flight school. While George attempts to pick up any loose woman in his vicinity, Philo has started up a relationship with fellow student Kelly (played by the very cute Mary Cadorette), who is extremely clumsy. As various other students, we have busty bombshell Judy Landers playing flirty former prostitute Sugar Dubois, voice actor extraordinaire Rob Paulsen as the (offensively) gay recruit, Corrine Bohrer as the punk sporting a multi-colored femullet, Sandahl Bergman as the tough girl, and Wendie Jo Sperber as the chubby one. William Bogert (the stuffy owner of the Academy) and Vicki Frederick (the ill-tempered headmaster) are well-cast as authority figures/villains, and possibly the most enjoyable of the major cast is Dennis Burkley who plays a gruff biker named “Snake.” These players do their best to make the most of a script that doesn’t seem even slightly interested in developing any of their characters, but at the very least, they seem to be having a good time.

They look like they're having fun?
They look like they’re having fun, right?

In the pre-South Park era, Stewardess School played regularly on Comedy Central, which may help account for the otherwise inexplicable admiration this film has achieved in certain circles. After all, if you’re flipping through the channels, there would be worse things one could wind up watching than this generally harmless flick. Since it (oddly) hasn’t been released in the DVD era, that sort of viewing experience may in fact be the picture’s ultimate destiny – it still seems to show up on cable once in a while. Though I’m not sure I would or could honestly recommend the film, it’s agreeable enough as a second-tier ‘80s comedy and time-waster.

yikes!

Sadly (?) unavailable on DVD, though this film seems to play on cable once in a while.

1/10 : No obvious violence, but the climax of the film deals with a terrorist on board a plane

5/10 : Occasional profanity and one use of the f-bomb

5/10 : Rather brief instances of topless nudity from incidental characters and assorted sexual references and innuendo

4/10 : Too downright dumb to be positioned among the best comedies of its era, but moderately enjoyable in its own right

“Please gimme some credit. There’s a little more to life than women. Very little.”

Sample scene (warning: some innuendo and crude humor):

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