Review: Soul Plane

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Ever since he was a young boy, Nashawn (Kevin Hart) has loved airplanes. Living out by the airport in Inglewood, California, many of the defining moments of his life were accompanied by the sound of airplanes flying overhead. Now in his late twenties/early thirties, he's an unsuccessful entrepreneur until an unfortunate and horrific incident on a commercial flight lands him with a settlement of $100 million dollars. Determined to put his money to good use, Nashawn, with the help of his pot-smoking cousin Muggsy (Method Man), decides to start his own airline; the first of its kind that caters to the urban traveler. Thus, NWA airlines is born, and the plans for its maiden voyage from the 205 to 310 are put in motion. Now NWA is not your normal airline, as its purple plane comes complete with an on-board dance club, ultra sexy flight attendants, a bathroom attendant, and an odd class designation system. There's no coach on this plane. Even the pilot is not your regular airline man, as Captain Mack (Snoop Dogg) is a graduate of the re-education process at the Pelican State Correctional Facility. On board the inaugural flight is Nashawn's ex-friend, a dirty-talking blind man, and the only white passengers The Hunkee's (sounds like Honkees), including the stuck-up father figure Elvis (Tom Arnold) and the oversexed, just turned legal age Heather (Arielle Kebbel), who wants nothing more than to get her freak on with all the hot guys on the plane. As the flight progresses, things get more and more out of hand.

Soul Plane is the latest comedy from MGM, if you can really call it a comedy. Marketed and hyped by promotional materials as being the Urban version of Airplane!, this is one movie that should not have been made. Despite a promising looking trailer and the inclusion of the main man of rap, Snoop Dogg himself, this is one plane that should have exploded upon takeoff. The plot is basically non-existant, as the movie plays more like a number of scenes dealing with the craziness that transpires on this airplane rather then a cohesive story. Directed by first timer and music video veteren Jessy Terrero and credited by writers Bo Zenga and Chuck Wilson, this is a failure of a colossal stature. First of all, the funniest material is in the trailer, and the rest of the jokes are either gross, dated, or in some cases just downright racist to even the film's more urban-targeted audience. Take for example the token white characters in the film, led by moronic Tom Arnold, who just so happen to have the last name Hunkee (hmmm... sounds like the derogeratory remark Honkee). If that isn't reverse racisim, then I don't know what is. The film also makes fun of minorities and disabled people, as well as including a number of terrorist-type jokes including Osama Bin Laden trying to board the plane, as well as Captain Mack's flight school buddies. If that's not enough for you, the film also goes for cheap laughs by throwing in a character whose name is Gaeman, but of course is misprounnced Gay-Min. Throw in the stereotypical gay flight attendant and two loud and obnoxious security screeners and you have just a few of the many annoying and painful elements of Soul Plane.

Let's face it, no one in Soul Plane has even the smallest chance in hell of being nominated for any award other then a Razzie or maybe an MTV Movie Award. Still, one shouldn't have to sit through acting this bad, except maybe in elementary school or dinner theatre. Kevin Hart, a relative newcomer, has the lead role of Nashawn, whose character is the least annoying of the bunch. Hart brings nothing to the movie and gives the most generic performance I've seen on screen in sometime. He doesn't have the charisma of a Cedric the Entertainer or a Steve Harvey, and just doesn't have the comic timing down at all. Method Man fares slightly better as his cousin Muggsy, but then again this character is so poorly developed that it's almost a waste of time and column space to say much more. Snoop Dogg is the only one with any real comedic chops in the movie and his presence is undeniable on screen. You can't help but like Snoop in this or any role. Tom Arnold is sort of a wildcard, in that he can be really good (True Lies) or really bad (The Stupids). Here he's just sort of mediocre. The material given to him is sort of like what you expect to see from a white comedy's trademark black character.

So if the storyline isn't good, the acting is near pathetic, and the movie is not only racist but also insults just about every minority or ethnic group, then what is there to like about Soul Plane? Well there are really only two answers to that question. For one, the soundtrack is pretty good as far as rap music soundtracks go, and the second is that it's over in only 82 minutes. At least the creative team involved thought to end this thing before it became even more painful than it already is. However, even a short running time and slamming tunes from the likes of Nelly and Snoop Dogg can't save this film from being just flat-out bad. I may have laughed during the film, but those laughs were few and far between, and far outnumbered by the times I groaned or muttered under my breath. Director Jessy Terrero, his writers, and the entire team at MGM have made a movie that disgraces the classic 80s Airplane! films and doesn't deserve to share the same airspace. Soul Plane is not only unfunny, racist, and downright awful, but is an insult to the intelligence of any human being. Add to that the fact that it's "R" rating, which is going to limit possible audiences, and you get the makings of one of the year's worst films.

Mark McLeod has always loved film. In addition to his roles with, Mark also works on many film promotion projects in Vancouver, BC, through his company, Mark McLeod PR.

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