Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Yes, I saw it. It was a "before 6 p.m. 'bargain' matinee," but I paid for myself and my two children to see SNAKES ON A PLANE.

How was it?

Thirty seconds into the movie, I was ready to see the snakes on the titular plane. Plot? Characters? Motivations? Don't care. I already knew the movie would be "bad"--at least based on high-falutin' film academician standards. This movie is not for them. I wanted to see the snakes on the plane. Period.

As the credits started, I thought to myself, "Samuel L. Jackson. I bet that's the only name I recognize in this cast." I lost that bet. The second name in the credits is Julianna Margulies (wow, leaving ER makes her the Shelley Long of 2000) and I also recognized Kenan Thompson (Hey, hey hey!). The name Lin Shaye seemed familiar, and looking her up online I realzied I first saw her in a 1970s t.v. movie about the Triangle Shirt Mfg. Company factory fire.

The set-up is as brief as it can be. I think it took us about twenty minutes to get to the plane, and it's flight list of no-dimensional characters. That's right, they're so thin they're not even one-dimensional. There's the older flight attendant, the young flight attendant, the male flight attendant whom everybody thinks is gay, and the somewhere-in-the-middle on her last day before quitting (to go to law school, of course) flight attendant. That will be our female lead. There's the pilot, and the sexually-harassing co-pilot. And that's just the crew.

We have several passengers. One or two of them even have names. Not that we are given their names up front; usually, we get the name much later into the film. There's rapper "3 Cheez" (no wait, it's "3 Gs") and his two bodyguards (one of them gets a name at the end, because we need it for a plot point), hot Mercedes ("like the car--vroom! vroom!"), unnamed mom with unnamed baby, a pair of UMs (Unescorted Minors--kids travelling by themselves), overweight drunken might-be-Hispanic lady, OBM (obnoxious business man--at least he's not American). And Mercedes has a dog which she carries in her purse. The dog's name--I kid you not--is Mary Kate. There's also young couple on honeymoon and a separate horny couple (platinum members of the Mile High Club). And there's a kick boxer--a world-class champion kick boxer.

Can you guess who dies first? Who lives? Dare I spoil it for you?

Oh, let's cut the crap and get real. Anyone who wanted to see the movie has already seen it. We all know that. Heck, it's been out for almost two weeks now and New Line will be lucky if this movie breaks $40 million in box office (before DVD sales).

The horny couple (not so subtly) moves into the bathroom, disables the smoke detector, and gets high during their Mile High experience. I knew it was a federal offense to disable airline lavatory smoke detectors, but who knew that disabling said detectors would lead to snakes biting your breast? As their howls of agony are misinterpreted as howls of ecstacy, older flight attendanct notes, "He's good." When the howls stop abruptly (since they're dead), she intones something to the effect of, "Maybe not so good." Yuk it up folks, none of the breathing passengers have realized that we have SNAKES ON A PLANE!

The next attack is some anonymous passenger. I will always call him "Penis Guy" because that's where the snake bites him.

I don't remember attack #3, but attack #4 is "snake eating someone's eye" attack. I can't remember for sure, but I think this was overweight, drunk might-be-Hispanic woman. She's sleeping. And she gets sexually aroused by a large snake slithering up her dress. When she wakes up, the snake bites her eye. At least I think it was her.

The most creative death is not due to snakes. Some poor man gets trampled, and dies from a woman's high-heeled shoe impaling his ear.

Oh, and naturally we have "snakes-eye view" shots throughout the movie. I think these shots are just there to pad the anemic running time.

The movie promises nothing except SNAKES ON A PLANE. It delivers that. And just that. Nothing else. Well, I did see some spark of chemisty between Samuel L. Jackson's character and Julianna Margulies' character (they had names; I just can't remember them). If the film had delivered anything else, just a little something, it would have been worth the price of admission.

During the movie, I had to keep reminding myself not to expect realism. The 30' constricter on the plane? Just accept it and move on. (Although it does give one passenger a nice bit to perform.)

There might be worse ways to spend 90 minutes. My only regret is that I didn't see it in a packed house on opening night. That would have made it a fantastic film. Unfortunately, the moment where that can happen (i.e., opening night) is gone forever. And I'm almost left thinking, "I can't believe I paid money to see that--knowing in advance what it was." Almost. I wanted to see the snakes on the plane. And that's what I got. Unfortunately, that's all I got. Even the famous tag line, "I have had it with these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane!" is not enough. It comes too late in the movie and seems badly shoe-horned in, to boot. Which is a shame, because it could have come earlier and gotten the big reaction it deserved.

Not a bad way to spend your last free day before school starts. But it's no PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE, either.


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