The title leaves nothing to the imagination, so it is impossible for me to write a completely spoiler-free review. The movie supplies exactly as advertised: Snakes on a Plane. As far as I’m concerned, this is perfect B-movie schlock. It was easily the best time I have ever had in a theatre, beating out any of the Star Wars experiences and a number of trips to Rocky Horror where, like in Vegas, what happens at Rocky Horror, stays at Rocky Horror. It wasn’t the power of the numerous pre-show Viso Hornys, either. (Recipe: Mix ice, Viso Will, and Captain Morgan’s Coconut Rum in a cocktail shaker. Pour into a martini glass and garnish with a cherry. Enjoy!)
What I loved it that there was no waste of time on a drawn-out plot exposition. No attempt to be intellectual or pretentious. Nathan Phillips witnesses a murder, and Samuel L. Jackson puts him in protective custody and escorts him on a plane to Los Angeles to testify. The audience meets a diverse cast of passengers, the plane takes off, snakes are released on the plane to kill the witness, and chaos ensues.
With a weak script, low budget, and tepid attempts at acting, it could have gone straight to DVD without anyone noticing it, even though I have seen numerous “A-movies” with less plot and worse acting. Viral internet marketing made a huge difference in the visibility of the film. A number of less net-savvy friends went, “HUH?” when I asked them whether they were interested in seeing it, while I had spent a good portion of the preceding week rocking out to Cobra Starship, designing T-shirts for the film at CafePress, and getting Samuel L. Jackson to call my friends and threaten to come after them if they didn’t see the film. The day of the opening I made a stop at The Lippman Company to pick up a bag of snakes, and the gal at the counter kind of gave me a funny look because apparently there had been brisk trade in snakes all day.
To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t as interested in seeing the movie itself as I was in waiting in line, swapping trivia, and sharing the experience with geeks who have a similar weakness for cheesy B-movies. The crowd did not disappoint. With plastic snakes slithering out of our bosoms, the girls and I shared a flask of top shelf tequila with the cute guys from Film Fever Radio before heading in to join the raucous fun already underway. There was shouting and clamoring for posters and hats, and a lovely gal won a t-shirt and shamed all the dudes in the crowd by knowing that Ronny Yu was first director to take on the project.
We cheered during the previews. We cheered when the titles came up. We cheered when Samuel L. Jackson first graced the screen. We hissed at the CGI snakes. A predictable gross-out scene involving fangs and genitals brought together the knees of all men in the theatre. I *was* a bit disappointed that I didn’t hear more screaming when I threw plastic snakes at fellow theater-goers during tense moments.
As for the movie itself, it wasn’t as bad as I expected. Pacing was good, and it passed my watch test*. As I mentioned above, no time was wasted getting to the snakes. The simple, hole-ridden plot was laid out, and the plane to hell was boarded. A few minutes in I knew who should die, and who I wanted to root for. A brief appearance by Todd Louiso was lacking a top five playlist of songs snakes can attack to, but I let it slide. Overall, a B-movie that doesn’t aspire to be anything it isn’t, and a film that really shouldn’t be experienced by anything less than you and several hundred of your closest drunken friends. Good times.
I give the Snakes on a Plane experience 5 out of 5 Critical Hits.
The movie on its own warrants 3 out of 5 Critical Hits.
* If I want to look at my watch during a movie to see how much longer it will go on, it fails. I need to be completely caught up in the film.