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The Plane Movie HOF
"Apparently crying comes easier 30,000 feet in the air"
Who said that? Who did that study? I want to know. People keep talking about how you cry more easily at movies on an airplane. I would love to know if that’s actually true. It feels like a thing people say as a fun factoid before revealing which movie they cried at, usually something like Coco or Million Dollar Baby. I’ve only ever cried at the movie Click, and nothing else, I swear to God, I promise.
What I will say, though, is that the plane is the perfect place to watch movies that otherwise may not be amazing and then experience them as amazing. This is not a novel thought. Annoying people have been pontificating on “Plane Movies” years before The Ringer ever set its sights on a business model that prioritizes rewatching content that’s already been made by other, professional people and then talking about it.
But there is, really, something about the perfect sense of satisfaction one gets from a perfect Plane Movie, from being able to while away a couple hours ignoring turbulence via thoughtfully composed dramatic tension. My general ethos is: every movie should be watched in theaters. And then that the plane is not the place to watch your big-budget, high-concept explosion movies, like Mission Impossible or Top Gun. It’s for the stuff you missed, the things in between, because this is where the Plane Movie shines. That sweet spot of a decent script, some actors you recognize, and a fun hook. At 30,000 feet, nothing else matters.
Here is my recent Plane Movie Hall of Fame. I can’t rank them, but can only provide tiers of varying levels of engagement. If that seems like a real, thoughtful decision I’ve made, be assured it’s not; it’s because I’m lazy and don’t have time.
The “Ah Fuck I Fell Asleep Doing That Thing Where You Keep Bobbing Your Head Up And Down” Tier
Marvel’s Eternals (2021)
God this was atrocious. Don’t even want to think about it. I literally put it on because I was curious. I think I generally got the gist.
India Sweets and Spices (2021)
I actually didn’t sleep through this; I was alert, wide awake, following everything that happened. It’s just that I couldn’t believe my eyes. I simply had to slot it into this tier because it was so fucking awful.
The “Sure This Wasn’t A Waste Of The Time I’ve Already Paid For” Tier
Our Friend (2021)
Nice movie! I just kind of hate Jason Segel.
This movie has left the brain almost entirely. I don’t remember much of it. But I remember watching this on a plane and having a decent time.
The “This Movie Is HIM” Tier
The Age of Adaline (2013)
I get it. No one knows this movie exists. And I also get it—if I watched this in theaters or in any other capacity, it might be the worst movie of all time. But what can I say, friends? I can’t explain it. Watching this on the plane was a transcendent experience. Harrison Ford is in this. What a picture!
The Nest (2020)
This movie rules. Yes, it’s Jude Law, so we are predisposed here at LLA to love it. But it’s peak Plane Movie, a “searing” drama that ends with some really good Jude Law vs. Carrie Coon freakouts.
The platonic ideal, perhaps, of the Plane Movie? Just good actors throwing darts at each other for two hours. That’s it, nothing more.
Wow. Powerful stuff.