What makes the best plane film? | Jack Marshall’s column

How much space do you have on a plane? Half a square metre? Not a lot of space at all. As a result, there’s very little you can do on a plane. Unless you can do it in the airspace above your own lap, it’s off the tiny tray-table.

By Jack Marshall
Monday, 30th May 2022, 12:25 pm
Updated Monday, 6th June 2022, 8:08 am

Let’s talk popular plane things you can do in your little box once you’ve won the battle for control of the arm rest and have managed to convince the creepily starry-eyed grown man to put the shutter down on the blazing sunrise on your 6am flight so everyone can chill out.

One: sleep. A frustrating plane pastime for the simple reason that it’s very hard to do to any degree of satisfaction unless you have a loved one or a very accommodating stranger next to you to use as a pillow. Plus, sleeping on planes gives me a sore throat.

Two: read. A great option. Planes are boring (an interesting flight is probably a terrifying flight) so get stuck into that book. Simples.

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Ferris Bueller's Day Off: flawlessly fun.

Three: films. Absolutely the best option, with a certain caveat - it has to be the right film. The ideal plane film is a specific one with stringent criteria. This isn’t the time or the place for Oscar nominees, it’s about familiarity and distraction.

The last four plane films I watched were Mank, Uncut Gems, The Irishman, and Manchester by the Sea, all terrible choices. Mank: broody and stylised. Uncut Gems: the most stressful movie ever made. The Irishman: needs at least two intermissions. Manchester by the Sea: powerfully depressing.

Don’t get me wrong, all of these films are great movies. Watch them at home with the ability to pause them, stretch your legs, and make a brew and you’re golden. But on a plane you need irreverence, you need nostalgia, you need easiness. Pure, unadulterated entertainment.

And so, without further ado, I present the indulgence of Crazy Rich Asians, the fun of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Andy Samberg in Palm Springs, Shreks 1 and 2, the timelessness of The Naked Gun, and The Grand Budapest Hotel, the best movie ever made.

Thank me when you’re back from your jollies.