Friday, August 18, 2006

serpents aboard an airliner

It was going to be a rare quiet Thursday night. Sitting at home, wasting time on the computer, debating when to pop a Harold Lloyd disc I rented into the DVD-o-matic.
The phone rings.

It's my friend Brad, who I haven't seen in awhile. He knows I'm game for most things, so asks if I'm interested in catching a movie.

It takes a special movie to motivate one to drive from Guelph to Toronto to catch a flick on a weeknight.

Hello, opening night for Snakes on a Plane.

We drove down to the Paramount. For the first time ever, I ordered tickets online and was surprised how quick the pick-up process was. Brad joked that my reaction would have made a good commercial ("wow, I can't believe how simple that was!").

The theatre wasn't 100% packed, but the crowd was lively. When we walked in, teens were already yelling "SNAKES ON A PLANE!" and jeering the first of a 10-minute stream of commericals. Objects flew around the seats. Audience members were decked out in plastic snakes and cheap Halloween afro wigs. Odd, considering nobody sports one in the flick. An homage to earlier Samuel L. Jackson roles?

We couldn't figure out the dude in full Star Trek: The Next Generation dress uniform.

A roar of cheering hit when the movie started. Brad enjoyed the opening sequence, full of helicopter shots, surf, a guy riding a bike and easygoing music.

The crowd was thoroughly absorbed in the movie, calling out comments as if they had developed their own Rocky Horror-style script beforehand. Lots of hissing. Among the other lines we heard:

"He needs its natural enemy! It's a mongoose!"
"Snakes on a (insert whatever object was onscreen at the time)!"
"Snake on a lei!"

The movie itself?

(potential spoilers)

Enjoyable fluff, enhanced by audience participation. With a title like Snakes on a Plane, it has to have its tongue firmly planted in cheek. Movie references abound - many characters would have been comfortable in the Airport series or other 70s disaster flicks, a reference to Airplane might have snuck in, the inevitable Gremlins joke, etc.

Rick Groen wrote a good analysis in yesterday's Globe and Mail on the phenomenon spawned by the movie and why standard criticism may be irrelevant.

Goofy, ludicrous fun...but you have to see it with a crowd. It might not work so well alone at home. SSSSSSSSS... - JB

Recommended Movies to Watch Afterwards
SSSSSSS (1973) Mad zoologist Strother Martin (the man who uttered the immortal line "what we have here is a failure to communicate" in Cool Hand Luke), complete with alcoholic pet snake, slowly transforms assistant Dirk Benedict (Face from The A-Team) into a King Cobra.

Airplane! (1980) The template for modern joke-a-minute genre parodies, especially involving flight. Cornball fun. "Oh, it's a big pretty white plane with a red stripes, curtains at the windows, wheels, and it just looks like a big Tylenol."

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1982) - "I hate snakes."

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