There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
In Soul Plane, black people are loud ’n’ lazy and white people are, well, Tom Arnold. Needless to say, no one comes out looking very good in first-time feature director Jessy Terrero’s attempt at an urban Airplane!. Though it’s nearly as funny as that “My mama no raise no dummies” stuff when Captain Mack (Snoop Dogg) confuses passengers of both races with his ’00s version of jive, most of Soul Plane’s broad humor falls short of the inspired silliness of its predecessor, with scriptwriters Bo Zenga and Chuck Wilson opting instead to wallow in crudeness. They do little else in between the film’s setup, which involves lawsuit-winning Nashawn (Kevin Hart) founding a rims- and hydraulics-accessorized airline after an unfortunate experience on a white-bread carrier (in-flight movie: Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood), and its finale, a somebody’s-gotta-land-this-plane! plot turn cribbed directly from the Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker playbook. The mostly obnoxious characters, from the craft’s “low-class” riders on up to its coddled playas, are given nothing to do but hit on each other, drink malt liquor, and yell loudly about “bullshit” of various sorts. Nashawn may go from belching, broke “entrepreneur”—which an opposing lawyer at his trial interprets as “nothing but a deadbeat looking for a quick
dollar”—to well-dressed and -spoken businessman, but Hart’s genial blahness is the same throughout. Arnold is—shudder—pretty much the best part of the movie as the clueless Mr. Hunkee, whose goofy-white-guy reactions to novelties such as a chicken-and-waffles restaurant (“Usually you gotta go to two places, but here you’ve got the one!”) are a good use of his usually annoying, doughy countenance. Stereotypical to a fault, this portrait of folks who are crass, rude, and sex-starved is more about self-abuse than self-awareness, but that doesn’t stop it from delivering at least one perfectly incisive line: “What kind of UPN operation is this?”