Russell Baillie writes about movies for the Herald

Review: Air NZ safety video


Russell Baillie checks out the latest Air New Zealand safety video for the first - but probably not the last - time.

Rhys Darby's 'dulcet Kiwi tones' feature in Air New Zealand's latest safety video.
Rhys Darby's 'dulcet Kiwi tones' feature in Air New Zealand's latest safety video.

That short but attention-getting screen franchise, the Air New Zealand Safety Video, has never had a great respect for genre.

It's had hobbits. It's had ancient sitcom stars. It's had All Blacks rapping, badly.

It's had Bear Grylls and boy scouts. Surfers and swimsuit models. It's had (why oh why?) Richard Simmons and jazzercisers.

It's had - what were they thinking? - Air New Zealand staff in bodypaint.

It's all been a viral marketing tool, of course.

But being forced to watch many of these repeatedly on a plane - like, where they are important - has often made me wish there was an I've-read-the-card opt-out box I could tick.

The music-based vids always sounded awful on airplane public address systems and stuffed with all those abundant production values and sight gags, they have dragged on a bit.

Good news then, fellow grumpy passenger in seat 39B, the new Air New Zealand safety video is the longest one yet. Well according to YouTube it pips Men in Black by two seconds.

But it is quite fun. Not up there with the Lord of the Rings/Hobbit one. But it's better than most of its predecessors.

Most of those five minutes plus involve Rhys Darby, a star of many big-brand advertisements, and Anna Faris, a veteran star of many memorable television shows and movies starring Anna Faris.

Oh that's right, she's in Mom. And she was in that Yogi Bear movie made in New Zealand after which Ms Faris had the temerity to say less-than-complimentary things about the place due to being subjected to boorish behaviour by local blokes.

The new vid actually has a lot of respect for genre. It just can't decide which one, as it swings between parodies of cop drama, romance, horror and Western.

Darby and Faris play themselves, struggling to find an idea for a new safety video that works among the different settings provided by Warner Bros studios.

As Darby and Faris mercilessly ham it up, yet another pair of curiously telegenic Air New Zealand staff pop in to tell us the Stuff We Need To Know.

Some bits work better than others.

The horror sketch, aka the lifejacket and exit lighting demonstration, is strained and strange, with Faris going from warrior princess to Super Mario Brother while Darby simpers in a leather dress and wig which, it must be said, is more alarming than a whole cabin of body-painted crew.

That "pot dealer" pun in the cop episode is going to wear thin fast.

But the Parisian romance sequence is enjoyably silly for its Gallic gags. Clearly, Air New Zealand is not aiming at French landing rights, ever.

And the Western episode - the no smoking, use of gadgets bits - is amusingly daft.

But it's not just a safety video. Five minutes of Darby's dulcet Kiwi tones is certainly a good primer for inbound foreign tourists learning how to understand the rest of us when they get here.

- NZ Herald

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