"Airplane!" is a very stupid movie. It is the 1980s' version of, say, "Scary Movie," in that it operates on a thin plot, relies mostly on gags, and is continually bouncing from character to character and joke to joke. Still, its stupidity transcends generations and keeps it relevant even today, when most comedies are either aiming for a higher purpose or for a target audience consisting of intoxicated twenty-something-year-olds.
"Airplane!" finds the happy medium--dumb, silly comedy that everyone can enjoy--and runs with it for the entire duration of its story arc (an airplane is in danger of crashing, in parody of some disaster movies). There is certainly nothing technical to be marveled at here, and no jokes that make one pause to wonder whether the writing team behind the film have dabbled in comedy with more gravitas (ie Woody Allen's later work). But, riding a tremendously consistent wave of one-liners and sight gags, "Airplane!" still manages to taste greatness.