Stewardess School (1986) – A Review
Onboard an airplane, passengers are being served by a new crew of flight attendants. A perky stewardess is making an ice cream sundae for a little boy dressed in a cowboy outfit. As she prepares his sundae with fudge, whipped cream and a cherry on top she asks: “How would you like your nuts crushed?”
The little boy angrily pulls out his toy gun, points it at her and says, “How would you like your tits shot off?”
It’s hilarity in the dorms AND the skies, as a motley misfit group attempt to become the best stewardess crew any airline could dream of having!
It won’t be easy for this group that includes klutzes, ex-prostitues and angry ex-wrestlers, who enroll in the prestigious Weidermeyer Academy. They’re not very welcomed there and are put thru the ringer from a by-the-book instructor who hopes to crush their dreams of serving in the friendly skies.
Yet, they somehow manage to graduate and all land jobs at a failing airline. For their first flight the comedy culminates as this group have to deal with blind passengers, a secret FAA inspector and a mad bomber!
Fasten your seat belts!
You know exactly what you’re in for with Stewardess School. You should not expect Sully, Flight or even Snakes on a Plane! It’s a lowbrow 1980s comedy filled with plenty of juvenile sex jokes, silly gags and some sexy bits all meant to give fans at the time what they wanted from a brainless entry of the teen/sex/comedy film genre. If your looking for that kind of entertainment Stewardess School rewards you with just what you’re looking for.
The one major difference with Stewardess School and most of the teen/sex/comedies at the time, is that this time around it’s not teens running around through high school parties or a college dorm, but adults who get in on the raunchy, adolescent humor!
No worries, despite their more mature ages, this more grown-up cast still act like buffoons and all the staples of what you expect to see from a teen/sex/comedy are included here.
Stewardess School drew its inspiration clearly from the Police Academy films. It’s the same exact premise, only instead of squad cars they moved the comedy to an airplane. For scholars of the genre you’ll probably be able to trace many jokes and characters in it back to the original Police Academy, at least I could.
We’re introduced to Brett Cullen and Donald Most who are taking a simulated pilot test. They fail big time by crashing the plane into the city. You really see how different an era you’re thrust back into when crashing a plane into a building is played as a funny gag.
Cullen happens to be cartoonishly near-sighted and needs his thick glasses to see. Most is…well he’s like the wannabe cool, ladies man with the one-liners at the ready and always has a scheme going on. You know the type, we’ve seen these type of leading men in plenty of movies.
For instance, he walks around wearing a smoking jacket and an ascot. That’s enough of a wardrobe choice to show us what kind of guy he is. He’s like Tim Matheson’s Otter in Animal House.
We of course all know Most from Happy Days as Ralph Malph. On that show he used the name ‘Donny Most’. I guess at a point after the show ended and he moved onto heavier roles he became ‘Donald Most’. His character in Stewardess School definitely requires a ‘Don’ to play him and not a ‘Donald’.
Cullen you might recognize (when he takes off his Coke bottle glasses). The guy has done a lot of acting work since Stewardess School. I just saw him show up in a small role in The Shallows. He was in The Dark Knight Rises, tons of tv shows, I believe he’s playing Thomas Wayne in the new upcoming Joker movie.
If you’ve kept up these occasional revisits I do to these types of films, you shouldn’t be surprised as to some of the actors that can count them as some of their earliest ventures into cinema. They were perfect opportunities for young, hungry actors to score a role in. They might not have been Shakespeare, but hey, actors need to work!
So, Stewardess School was some early work for him. I’m not sure how he feels about it today, but at the time he was probably happy to have landed a paying job, like most of the actors who got cast in these films felt at the time.
Watching him in this I don’t think you’d predict that this guy would survive in Hollywood and be more than one of those ‘one-and-done’ type of actors who we see in one thing and never again, but while he might not be a huge, recognizable name, Cullen managed to go onto a long career in front of the camera.
There’s a quick introduction to the nine main characters and we see how the hands of fate have led them to enroll in this school and dreams of becoming stewardesses. Naturally they all have their own comedic quirks.
Mary Cadorette (best known as Jack Tripper’s girlfriend in Three’s A Crowd, the Three’s Company spinoff) is a clumsy orchestra drummer who gets fired after messing up a performance.
Cadorette I thought was much prettier here than she was on Three’s A Crowd. I think maybe it’s her big hairspray hair style she wears in this. I’m a sucker for that big 80’s hair.
Sandahl Bergman (of Conan the Barbarian and Red Sonja fame) is a professional wrestler who….I think this is what happens….her geeky fiancé has left her because he saw how violent a person she could be while wrestling in the ring. With a broken heart and wanting to change she decides to quit wrestling and become a stewardess – I think. That’s how I interpreted it anyway. I suppose this is a very common story among wrestlers.
Corinne Bohrer is a rich girl who loves bad biker Dennis Burkley. Her father (played by famed character actor Earl Boen. You know him. The shrink in Terminator) pays off Burkley with a new motorcycle to let her goto stewardess school and secure a better future than just hanging around him.
This motorcycle by the way is the only connection I can see as to why it’s featured on the movie poster. You would think they would have had an airplane on it, but I guess they initially felt Judy Landers sitting sexily on a shiny hog was meant to attract more of the target audience to this.
Oddly enough, when the movie hit VHS the poster image they used looked much more appropriate with a bunch of sexy Stews straddling a little airplane.
Julia Montgomery (Julie from Revenge of the Nerds) is a third generation perky stewardess whose only dream is to serve in the friendly skies.
Judy Landers (PJ and the Bear fame, pinup gal and sister to the equally hot Audrey Landers) is an ex-prostitue whose parole officer gets her a spot in this school.
Rob Paulson (the voice of Yakko Warner himself) plays a gay guy. That’s all, he’s just a flamboyant gay guy that is meant to provide some laughs.
Wendy Jo Sperber, as she had done many times, plays a shy, unsure ‘fat girl’ who’s self conscious and desperately trying to lose weight.
Sperber showed up in quite a few movies throughout the 80’s (Back to the Future, Bachelor Party, Moving Violations) I was first introduced to her in the Tom Hanks/Peter Scolari sitcom Bosom Buddies in the early 80’s – where she kind of played the same kind of character that would become her onscreen persona.
Paulson and Sperber don’t have much of the way in characters. We don’t get a reason as to why they’re enrolling in stewardess school or are given any funny background stories. The fact that they’re ‘the gay guy’ and ‘the fat girl’ is enough for this movie I guess. The jokes the movie gets from them are stereotypical and uninspired.
Of course there are fat jokes that happen around Sperber’s weight – who I never thought was ‘so fat’ that it even warrants it becoming her onscreen persona.
She desperately tries to resist food at the dinner table and when she jumps into a survival raft she’s so heavy she destroys it and water splashes everyone, complimented by silly sound effects. It’s even her ‘big butt’ that saves the plane in the end.
You want to talk about politically incorrect? Today most of this stuff would not fly with audiences. Jokes about gays, fat people, planes crashing, comedy being culled by airplane bombers, laughing at blind people.
If a studio were to release a movie with these kind of stock jokes aimed at these targets you could be sure there would be complaints about it.
I sometimes have to remind myself that only a few years away in 1988 some folks got upset that A Fish Called Wanda played Michael Palin’s stutterer for laughs.
Back in the 1980’s no one thought twice about this kind of stuff compared to today. Comedic subjects and targets of lowbrow humor have really narrowed since the heyday of teen/sex/comedies. I don’ think you could even get away with using the word ‘stewardess’! They would probably have to retitle this ‘Flight Attendant School’.
Anyway, a series of hijinks and humor commence as their semester begins. Their instructor doesn’t much like them and thinks their mere presence is a disgrace to the prestigious Weidermeyer Academy. Much like Police Academy, this meanie in charge attempts to get them to fail. From there, the jokes are all quite predictable when you see which cast member is on the scene.
When Landers is around that means cue the sexy music, we get to oogle and watch men become transfixed on her body. Cullen walks around nearly blind thanks to his extreme near-sightedness. Most acts like a swinging king, but ends up looking more like a buffoon than Sinatra. Cadorette will fall or spill something. We get reminded that Sperber is heavy and on and on and on.
Somehow these goof-ups to graduate, but their dastardly instructor is not through with them yet! Rather than assign them jobs with respectable airlines, they all get to work for Stromboli Airlines – not the most prestigious gig.
However, the owner is a good guy and is just trying to avoid bankruptcy. How ironic that it’s this crew first flight that will make or break his airline.
And you guessed it, that leads to all these silly Stews working a flight where everything that can go wrong does and in between laughing at some ‘outrageous’ comedy we hope they can pull out a win for Stromboli!
It’s little wonder that Stewardess School isn’t as remembered as Police Academy. I’m not saying Police Academy is high art or a great comedy, but at the very least it contained more memorable characters than any here. Even to the most casual movie goer you could say, “Hey, Police Academy, do you remember that black guy who made the funny noises?” and they’d probably reply in the affirmative.
With Stewardess School…..there’s really nothing distinctive that you take away from it. Even the setting of a comedy taking place on an airplane – there’s nothing. I can’t think of one joke that revolving around air travel that even got a smirk out of me. That’s pretty bad.
I could easily say if you want to watch a much better comedy that that revolves around an airplane, then watch Airplane!, but that would be too easy a recommendation.
If pressed I’d have to say the biggest highlight that comes out of Stewardess School would be Judy Landers and that’s more because she was Judy Landers. They were probably smart to feature her on the poster.
The ‘climactic’ third act is the group at work under the most silly and tense situation – and there’s really no laughs to be had. A promised appearance by Sherman Helmsley as a blind passenger does nothing to help things.
While watching this I started to wonder how he even got involved in this, even in such a small way. Was he doing this to help his friend out? Did he have some financial interest in this movie? Did he just grab any offers he could now that that The Jeffersons was over? Was he just free and had nothing else to do that week? I couldn’t figure it out.
So that’s Stewardess School. While I was enamored with how adorable Cadorette looked, could enjoy Landers ‘assets’ and was initially curious how Most would be as the cocky leading man, which dissipated in almost an instant, there’s is nothing else I can think of worth talking about with this.
If your a fan of cheesy 1980s comedies, I think you would have to be pretty hard up to enjoy Stewardess School. This is a very low grade comedy. Maybe you can enjoy some of the 1980s outfits and hairstyles? Yeah, I’m really trying to scrape something together here.
If you like teen/sex/comedies, this wouldn’t make much of a dent (I think there was two scenes with boobs, so if you’re looking for nudity to carry you through this it’s still going to be a haul). The comedy is extremely lazy and tired. It probably deserves to be forgotten.
But at least it provided work for some of the actors at the time. That’s about the most positive thing that came from it.
I couldn’t find a trailer for it, but here’s a clip with Judy Landers in Stewardess School – it seems most people think she provides the most worthwhile moments in it