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Pinball

Joe "Pinball" Parker is a secondary character in the film Con Air. He is a short, skinny convict guilty of armed robbery, arson, and drug involvement. He claims to be an otherwise decent person who just got caught. Against this, he is part of a conspiracy to hijack the prison plane he and other convicts are held aboard, and escape to freedom. Pinball is unfortunately killed during an arranged transfer, but his body later serves as an important clue to the authorities who are searching for the plane. Pinball is portrayed by comedian Dave Chappelle (credited as David Chappelle).

Pinball is one of many convicts arriving at Vacaville, CA for a flight to a new supermax facility located in Mobile, AL. He is described by Guard Falzon in a vulgar manner as a "walking penis" and "one skinny Negro." Pinball avoids a thorough mouth check for concealed items due to having very foul breath, adding a crude joke to Falzon's disgust.

As Pinball is seated aboard the Jailbird, he notices former U.S. Army Ranger Cameron Poe, initially mistaking him for an acquaintance. Pinball nevertheless introduces himself to Poe. He then attempts to strike up a conversation with the convict seated next to him, a Native American whom Pinball nicknames "Cochise", adding in some stereotypical references, to which his companion simply growls.

Shortly after the Jailbird leaves Vacaville, Pinball proceeds to secretly regurgitate a small package containing a vial of flammable liquid and a match. He uses them to create a fire on his Native American associate and uses the distraction to steal the keys off Guard Sally Bishop and release fellow prisoner Nathan "Diamond Dog" Jones from his high-security cage. Pinball also releases Cyrus "The Virus" Grissom, who takes control of the plane, much to the celebration of all the prisoners aboard.

Pinball releases Poe's prison friend "Baby-O" from his restraints, who is frustrated about all the medicine aboard destroyed during the takeover. Pinball can only look on as Baby-O is then relieved to find a vial of insulin for his diabetes. Pinball is then instructed to locate all the prisoners scheduled for a transfer in Carson City, NV. He is interrupted by Willie Sims, a DEA undercover agent armed with a concealed gun. As Pinball is held hostage by Sims, Grissom puts him in a faceoff, using Bishop as a shield and showing no remorse if Pinball was killed, calling him a "two-bit Negro crackhead." Sims is distracted by another convict (Popovich), which results in him being killed by Grissom. Pinball claims Sims' gun and informs Grissom of the transfer prisoners, who takes the gun, admitting his displeasure of Pinball's being.

When the Jailbird arrives at Carson City, Pinball joins the prisoners disguised as guards to complete the transfer. He also meets "Swamp Thing", the designated pilot, amused by his "white trash" knowledge of removing the plane's transponder, with Pinball taking it to a tourist plane, where he is almost discovered by a woman in the hangar. Pretending to be a guard, Pinball succeeds in befriending her, but leaves in haste as the Jailbird is leaving without him. Chasing after the plane on the runway, Pinball is noticed outside by "Cochise", his burned face in bandages. Despite Pinball's apologies, the Native American simply laughs mockingly at him. Pinball gives him an obscene gesture before vanishing in the dust storm around the plane.

Later, Poe is ordered to investigate why the plane's landing gear is not fully up. He finds Pinball crushed to death by the tire in the cargo hold. Ordered to drop Pinball's body, Poe uses the brief opportunity to hastily scribble a message to U.S. Marshal Vince Larkin, informing him of the plane's destination to Lerner Airfield. Pinball's body is dropped over Fresno, where it lands on the car of a middle-aged couple, causing mass traffic wreck.

Personality

Pinball describes himself as "a hell of a nice guy". Indeed, he is actually one of the most mild-mannered characters throughout the movie. This is especially true compared to Johnny 23, Billy Bedlam, Diamond Dog, and (most of all) Cyrus "The Virus". Unlike most of the convicts, he does not enjoy killing, as he acknowledges that setting fire to "Cochise" could possibly kill him, and he hopes the Native American doesn't hold a grudge because of it.

Pinball is also shown to have a strong sense of humor.

Trivia

Dave Chappelle improvised most of Pinball's lines.

The scene where Poe scribbles a message on Pinball's body is a source of humor on YouTube. Not only does it parody the movie itself ("Hillbilly! Got ya! Hurry up, man!"), but it also parodies others, including Die Hard ("Now I have a machine gun. Ho-ho-ho!"), and Chappelle's Show ("I'm Rick James, bitch!").

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