A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 243 – Snakes on a Plane

Snakes on a Plane – October 29th, 2010

When I started this project I knew there’d be movies in the collection I didn’t necessarily want to watch but would end up putting on anyhow because that was the whole point. Somehow it escaped my notice at the outset that we owned this movie. I remembered fairly quickly, and I probably could have set up the rules so that I could pick a movie or two to skip over. I considered it. But I didn’t. Because apparently I’m a glutton for punishment. Because I am ophidiophobic. Not as badly as I used to be. I haven’t had any screaming nightmares that make me wake up convinced there are cobras under my bed in at least a year, and over the summer I held two snakes during a library program. Almost wet my pants, but I held them. So I should be able to handle a cheesy movie full of CGI snakes, right?

Right. The reason we’re watching this today and not some other day is because tonight we’re going to Cinematic Titanic Live, and they’re premiering Rattlers. And I thought it would totally be a brilliant idea to fill my day with as many snakes as possible. And between the movie and the show tonight I plan on going down to the marsh to see if I can catch a few garter snakes, just for kicks! Sometimes I’m not very intelligent about this sort of thing. To be honest, holding actual live snakes (a ball python and a corn snake) was easier than watching these computer generated ones on my television. I was doing just fine until the snakes attacked the folks in the bathroom and then I had a full body freak-out.

I admit, I looked away a lot. Like, I had my head under a blanket for whole chunks of the movie. I screamed, I shook, I whimpered. This movie is pure disaster cheese and it’s well aware of it, so it’s full of little jokes like the “snake” setting on the microwave. And I appreciate that. In the middle of my phobic twitching (no, really) it was nice to have the occasional laugh or two. And I did laugh, because let’s face it, there’s a reason this movie became a web-driven cult hit and his name is Samuel L. Jackson and he does a fantastic job keeping the movie fun where it can be. I’d probably have enjoyed him a lot more if I wasn’t so incredibly wigged out by the snakes. It takes a lot of movie to get to the “mother fucking snakes on this mother fucking plane” line, but it’s worth it when it gets there and he’s got plenty of similarly Look How Bad Ass I Am moments to get through until then. And I was pleasantly surprised to find that Julianna Margulies was given a part that’s also pretty badass and fun to watch. Sure, she’s not as snappy as Jackson’s Agent Flynn, but Margulies as Claire, one of the flight attendants, certainly held her own through the barrage of snakes and cheese.

I hesitate to even gloss over the plot of the movie. The plot is incidental. I mean, who really cares why the snakes are on the plane, right? Or why Agent Flynn is on the plane too? Yes, there actually is a plot. It involves a murder with no background whatsoever, witnessed by a surfer named Sean. I think. Honestly, I wasn’t paying a hell of a lot of attention to names and the actor isn’t someone I’m familiar with. Anyhow, of course the goons of the guy who did the murderin’ come after the surfer and the FBI – represented by Samuel L. Jackson – get him to safety long enough to convince him to testify. They run through this whole thing where they have a fake flight for the witness when they’re really commandeering first class in a regular commercial flight, all to keep this guy safe. Unbeknownst to them (but knownst to us), the murderer has set up an elaborate plan involving crate-loads of illegally imported venomous snakes from around the world, boxes of leis saturated in a pheromone that will make the snakes go all attacky, and a timer set to blow the boxes open and wedge the cargo hatch open into the rest of the plane. He claims he’d run through all his other options already, and I’d like to know just how much attempted murder we missed that the only thing left is venomous snakes and pheromones. It’s so wacky, it just might work! The movie’s humor comes through later on when more than one character comments on the bizarre nature of the scheme.

Anyhow, once the snakes are loose the plot takes its rightful place in coach, in those seats with all the engine noise that I used to fly in because they were cheap. The snakes are all over the place, coming through the instrument panels in the cockpit and hiding out in vomit bags. They come down out of the ceiling with the oxygen masks and hide in purses and toilets and generally there are about ten times as many snakes as passengers (and that ratio gets bigger as the snakes start biting people). Our characters are a mixed bag of two honeymooning couples, two unaccompanied minors, a mother and baby, a famous musician and his two assistants, a kick boxer, a spoiled rich girl and her chihuahua, a snotty jackass who doesn’t like babies or dogs and then there’s the flight crew, Agent Flynn and the witness. There were other people, but if we met any of them for any appreciable amount of time I missed it what with all the snakes and my panicked flailing. Some of them make it, some of them don’t. The ones that don’t meet rather gruesome ends, as one might expect. This is not a movie full of surprises other than the billion snakes popping out of luggage compartments and food carts.

Did I enjoy this movie? In places, sure. I enjoyed Margulies and Jackson and I enjoyed the cheese factor and the incredibly self-aware nature of the movie. The whole mood of it is of a movie that knows damn well what it’s doing. It didn’t set out to have an involved plot or to make the situation remotely believable. It’s ridiculous from start to finish and it plays it up in just the right tongue-in-cheek way. But overall, there are just too many fucking snakes. Yes, that’s the point, I know. But I can only handle so much slithering and hissing and striking before I work myself into a panicked little ball in the corner of my bedroom. So yeah, I think I’m very glad to have this one behind me and I am quite certain that I will never ever be watching it again.

October 29, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Snakes on a Plane

October 29, 2010

Snakes on a Plane

Some days this movie is difficult. I’ve had a long day at work and this afternoon we didn’t have time to watch a movie before we left home to go watch the premier of a brand new Cinematic Titanic (Rattlers!) in Boston. I’m exhausted and happy after meeting Joel, Josh, Mary Jo, Frank and Trace and watching them make fun of a pretty bad movie. I want only to collapse and sleep for days, but the nature of this project demands that I watch and review a movie before the day is out. We chose to watch Snakes on a Plane because we thought that it would make a nice companion piece to Rattlers. I’m actually enjoying watching it again, but if you’ve read Amanda’s review then you know it was a pretty terrifying chore for her.

This movie was an expensive lesson for New Line Cinema. That lesson was this: the kind of person who enjoys being part of an internet meme is not the sort of person who pays to watch a movie. This movie, or at least the concept of it, was hugely popular in nerdly internet circles for a while. I mean, hell, just Google it. So New Line figured they had a guaranteed hit on their hands. What they didn’t account for was that the internet is entirely populated by pirates and scofflaws. So the movie bombed horribly. Which is too bad, because I actually enjoy this movie.

Snakes on a Plane does just what it says on the tin. It’s about snakes. On a motherfucking plane. It revels in the cheese. There’s a plot here about a mob boss and the surfer/dirtbiker/Redbull spokesperson who has witnessed him murdering a Hawaiian DA. Said mob boss uses the time-worn strategy for killing the potential stoolie and witness of filling a bunch of cargo containers with snakes, spiking the complementary aloha leis with pheromones to drive the snakes into a killing frenzy, then rigging the containers to open when the plane is midway between LAX and Honolulu. The only thing standing between our affable schmoe’s certain death is the steely-eyed glare of Samuel L. Jackson who plays the FBI agent charged with getting him to LA in one piece, and a kind-hearted flight attendant on her last flight before leaving the airline business to pursue her law degree.

What I enjoy about the movie is that it is so unabashedly silly. It’s only very slightly less a spoof of disaster films then Airplane. Indeed there were lines and shots in the movie that were close enough to bits from Airplane that I think it likely that they were intentional homages. The screenwriters took a very straight forward approach in their attitude towards the movie. I’d say they had two tasks to accomplish. First they had to introduce a wide array of easy to understand movie stereotypes to populate the plane. (The unaccompanied minors, the rap star and his body guards, the annoying British prick, the woman with her baby, the randy “mile high” couple, the sickly guy with a fear of flying, the kickboxer, the woman with her dog… all well worn tropes and many from the disaster movie genre.) Then the next task is to find as many gruesome and hilarious ways to kill off people (with snakes) as they could.

The movie would quickly become tired and repetitive if all you had was snakes latched on to jugulars and legs. They’ve got about an hour to fill with constant snake attacks here, and it’s a mighty difficult task to keep that fresh. Go ahead and try to think of every kind of way that somebody could be killed by a snake, and probably that will be somewhere in this movie. Towards the end it does start to feel a little samey, but they do a good job of keeping me entertained for most of the film.

This movie is pure cheese and must be viewed as such. You have to take a kind of joy in the stupidity of the plot and the ludicrous premise. Oh, and one other thing is essential if you’re going to enjoy this movie at all. You must have no fear of snakes. For the perspective of an ophidiophobe check out Amanda’s review.

October 29, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , | Leave a comment