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Flight / Rated R for drug and alcohol abuse, language, sex, full nudity and one violent jet crash.

If you’ve seen the preview for Flight you have no idea what Flight is about. The last film I attended where a preview was this misleading was Pay It Forward (2000).  Without giving anything away, the preview for Flight shows Denzel Washington as a commercial jet pilot who is forced to fly his plane upside down to avoid disaster. He then crashes the plane in an empty field. That scene occurs about 25 minutes into the film and lasts about 10 minutes. At some point in the preview, someone says to Capt. DW that alcohol has been discovered in his system. This is a big NO NO. He looks at them funny. This is the only real hint about what’s coming your way. Since it runs two hours and 18 minutes, what happens in the rest of the film is so beyond the spectacular crash sequence that you will think this must be another film.

Director Robert Zemeckis has brought a good group of varied, interesting and very entertaining films to the big screen – The Back to the Future Trilogy, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Forest Gump, The Polar Express, and Contact. What has he brought us in Flight?

Flight might be a film that will win Denzel another Oscar. Ray Milland took the Best Actor Award for the 1945 film The Lost Weekend playing a raging alcoholic. That movie made no bones about it: it was a story about alcoholism. In Flight, Denzel makes Ray look like a teetotaler. Not only is he a life-long, functioning alcoholic, he is also addicted to cocaine, nicotine and caffeine. That is what Flight is all about. Alcohol and drug abuse. That’s what you are going to see when you are not watching the plane crash sequence. There is also a healthy dose of nudity, sex and bad language, but they are all incidental to the alcohol and drug abuse.

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Denzel’s character would have better been suited to being a buyer for any liquor store than being a jet pilot. He proves to be a very competent pilot especially at crunch time, but it appears it’s the vodka and cocaine he consumed before the take off that’s keeping him going. For the most part, his character is not sympathetic and the film is painful to watch. John Goodman does a good job as the head pusher for Denzel. Everyone else in the film is portrayed as close to him personally and professionally, but most are puzzled that this guy has been flying all these years without being found out. In 2000, Pay It Forward seemed to be a goodwill film that the preview portrayed as a lot of folks doing good deeds for people who meet in the future. In reality it was also about alcoholism, drug and physical abuse.

The true meaning of the film’s title is not about the drug high – not piloting. Unless you want to sit through all the pain, go to the next movie on your list. Take a copy of this review to your local liquor store for five percent off your next purchase. Bottoms Up!!

Rated 2.2 out of 4.0 reasons you will never see this film on any commercial aircraft.

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