Awfully Good: Snakes on a Plane
We honor the late director David R. Ellis with a look at his most Awfully Good movie.
Snakes on a Plane (2006)
An assortment of poisonous reptiles takes up residence on a trans-Pacific flight.
In every lifetime, there are a handful of special memories that get permanently seared into your brain. I will never forget the exact moment my college roommate played the leaked .wav file of Samuel L. Jackson's now legendary line, "I've had it with these motherf*cking snakes on this motherf*cking plane! Strap in—I'm about to open some f*cking windows." Our entire floor gathered around the computer, listening to it and contemplating the cinematic scenarios that could lead to such a bold declaration. It may be an old and tired meme now, but that sentence brought so much giddy joy and anticipation in to my life. The studio may have been disappointed with the film after the box office didn't match the Internet hype, but I wasn't.
Roger had a bad case of the Mondays.
The final product is exactly what you would expect a movie titled SNAKES ON A PLANE to be—ridiculous, violent and fun. It's not a classic, even by B-movie standards, nor is it striving to be. Director David R. Ellis made something that not only embraces its premise but completely gives in to it, along the same lines as his underrated and awesome FINAL DESTINATION 2. The man just wants to put some angry legless reptiles on an aircraft and entertain you for 90 minutes. Is that too much to ask?
Yes, this microwave has a "Snake" preset button.
It's easy to have fun when Sam Jackson is having fun, and he's clearly having a blast in SNAKES ON A PLANE as an FBI agent so badass he uses his gun to shoot a snake off the person he's trying to protect. Jackson knows what movie he's in and acts accordingly without going too over the top. (See: THE SPIRIT.) Just watch his performance in the Best Line scene below; he's one eyelash away from directly winking at the audience. The rest of the perfectly diverse mix of characters is there simply to afford the film ample fuel for ridiculous mayhem and entertaining snake bait. There's the OCD rap star who freaks out more over germs than imminent serpent death, the spoiled Parish Hilton socialite (complete with Chihuahua), the snooty European man who hates Chihuahuas, the Asian guy who shockingly knows martial arts, some horny teens whose sole purpose is to join the Mile High Club, and—well, you can probably guess the rest. In terms of "names," you'll recognize David Koechner as the sleazy pilot and GOOD BURGER and MIGHTY DUCKS vet Kenan Thompson as the only human able to land a commercial airliner because he flew a flight simulator on his PSP.
Freud would have a field day with this movie!
Granted, there are plenty of hokey elements like the cliché flight attendant on her last day before retirement, or the entire witness protection framing device that gets the snakes on the plane in the first place. (And we'll completely ignore SOAP's ludicrous lessons in snake behavioral science since, you know, this is a movie.) All I know is that when the titular creatures drop from the oxygen mask compartments by the hundreds, all hell and fun break loose and SNAKES ON A PLANE lives up to its potential. The attacks vary from gruesome to hilarious, oftentimes both. The snakes are cruel and spiteful, hiding in vomit bags, clothing and other dubious spots. They automatically aim for the victim's most sensitive areas, including throats, eyes, nipples, and in one poor fellow's case, an exposed penis. There's even Snake-O-Vision, where you can see from the POV of the reptile as it attacks—just for shits and giggles. You can bemoan the abundance of CGI in the movie, but for the style of carnage Ellis wants to present, and short of giving a bunch of live snakes methamphetamines, practical is just not possible. Plus, he actually has the balls to kill the dog, something Roland Emmerich never had the guts to do. Give him some credit.
Still a better parent than the Lohans.
We've covered many SNAKES ON A PLANE copycats in this column, from SHARKS IN VENICE with Stephen Baldwin to SNAKES ON A SUBMARINE (aka SILENT VENOM) with Luke Perry, but none hold a candle to the original. And for that, we thank you, Mr. Ellis.
This was robbed of a Best Original Screenplay nomination, I tell ya!
Some of the best, funniest and nakedest kills. (NSFW)
A topless chick for the dudes and a quick penis peek for the ladies! Both are snake bait, unfortunately.
Take a shot or drink every time:
- A snake bites someone
- You're subjected to that God-awful Cobra Starship song
|Extra Tidbit:||The edited-for-TV version of this movie might have my favorite dubbed line ever: "I've had it with these monkey fighting snakes on this Monday to Friday plane!"|