SNAKES ON A PLANE
**** (out of 5)
August 18, 2006
Samuel L. Jackson as NEVILLE FLYNN
Julianna Margulies as CLAIRE MILLER
Nathan Phillips as SEAN JONES
Rachel Blanchard as MERCEDES
Flex Alexander as THREE G’S
Kenan Thompson as TROY
Studio: New Line Cinema
Directed by: David R. Ellis
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
This year has been the year of hype for movies. There was hype for summer blockbusters, like “Superman Returns.” There was also hype for comedies, like “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.” The latest hype machine to come out of Hollywood is the cheesy action flick “Snakes on a Plane.”
I recently saw a news article that praised New Line Cinema for its brilliant handling of the marketing of this film. And while I think this movie has been presented well to the American public, it is more in spite of the studio’s marketing efforts. Ever since the title was announced, there’s been a buzz for “Snakes on a Plane.”
However, the studio actually wanted to change the title (to the lackluster moniker “Pacific Flight 121) and make it a PG-13 film. The fans of cheesy action flick, not necessarily the studio, are the ones who demanded the goofy name and R-rated violence.
It’s not surprising that “Snakes on a Plane” throws every known cliche at you in the course of 100 minutes. It’s got some of the corniest dialogue I’ve heard in recent years, but this works to the film’s advantage. All of this works to making “Snakes on a Plane” one of the most brilliantly assembled movies ever.
The film follows an FBI witness on a jumbo jet, trying to get from Hawaii to L.A. Samuel L. Jackson plays an FBI agent escorting the witness. However, the gangster ready to stand trial plans to kill the witness by unleashing dozens of poisonous snakes on the plane, hoping to bring the aircraft down in the Pacific.
It’s one of the silliest plots to come down the pike in years. It reeks of a James Bond deathtrap that leaves plenty of room for escape. But who cares? It’s a hilarious movie – probably one of the funniest films of the year. It works on all levels because no one is taking this movie seriously.
You can praise it as a crazy, over-the-top action flick with plenty of crazy violence and in-air suspense. You’d be totally right. However, you can also trash it by saying it’s one of the dumbest movies to be released this year. Again, you’d be correct.
I caught “Snakes on a Plane” at a late-night screening the night of its release, mainly because it wasn’t screened for critics prior to this. The house was filled with intense fans and, aside from the fact that the AMC theater manager wouldn’t allow me to bring a rubber snake into the theater with me, I had a lot of fun. It’s one of those rare films that you can see with an audience of rabid fans talking back to the screen, and it only enhances the show. It’s the quintessential summer escapism flick.
In general, the movie moves fast enough to keep you interested. There are few slow spots, and there are plenty of snake effects. Rumor has it that reshoots were done to get an R rating with violence, nudity and language. Seeing the final product, and knowing the kind of fan this film is gunning for, it was a great decision.
The only sad story in the film is that of Julianna Margulies, who seems to have been in hiding since she left “E.R.” She tries for a comeback in this film, but it’s not a great choice. She’s paired up with a younger, prettier stewardess (Sunny Mabrey), which makes it painfully clear how much work Margulies has done on her face.
Ultimately, while Margulies shares the screen with Samuel L. Jackson, she doesn’t share the spotlight. She’s forgettable in her role as lead stewardess, which is sad because she gets upstaged by Hollywood redneck David Koechner. In her more tender scenes with Jackson, the folks in the late-night screening I went to started hissing incessantly, hoping for a snake to intervene.