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SNAKES ON A PLANE (director: David R. Ellis; screenwriter: John Heffernan/Sebastian Gutierrez/story by John Heffernan & David Dalessandro; cinematographer: Adam Greenberg; editor: Howard E. Smith; music: Trevor Rabin; cast: Samuel L. Jackson (Nelville Flynn, FBI Agent), Julianna Margulies (Claire Miller, Flight Attendant), Nathan Phillips (Sean Jones, surfer), Rachel Blanchard (Mercedes, passenger), Flex Alexander (Three G’s), Kenan Thompson (Troy, passenger), David Koechner (Co-pilot, Rick), Byron Lawson (Eddie Kim), Mark Houghton (Sanders, FBI Agent), Lin Shaye (Flight Attendant, Grace), Sunny Mabrey (Tiffany, Flight Attendant), Todd Louiso (Dr. Steven Price), Tom Butler (Captain Sam McKeon), Bobby Cannavale (Hank Harris, FBI Agent); Runtime: 105; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Don Granger/Craig Berenson/Gary Levinsohn; New Line Cinema; 2006)
“… an exploitation film that because of the well-executed gimmicky snake angle will be ensured staying power as a cultish camp classic.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

It’s a ridiculous B-movie, making absolutely no sense, offering no suspense, and is short on originality-it copies the Airport formula but ups the ante in slime; it’s an exploitation film that because of the well-executed gimmicky snake angle will be ensured staying power as a cultish camp classic. Director David R. Ellis (“Cellular”/”Final Destination 2″/former stuntman in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”) has made one of those it’s so-bad-it’s-good type of Ed Wood Jr. films. It’s what passes for stupid entertainment during the “dog days of summer” and, like it or not, there should be an audience for this trashy contribution to “trash pop culture.” The film’s highlight comes from Samuel L Jackson, doing his usual badass shtick, delivering the film’s tagline: “I want these Mutherfucking Snakes off this Mutherfucking Plane!”

The plot has Hawaiian surfer dude Sean Jones (Nathan Phillips) witnessing a vacationing LA prosecutor being brutally murdered by LA crime lord Eddie Kim (Byron Lawson) on a remote beach back road in Hawaii. Two FBI agents Nelville Flynn (Samuel L. Jackson) and John Sanders (Mark Houghton) serve as his escort on the red-eye Pacific Air Flight 121 to Los Angeles, where the surfer boy is to testify. Even though the FBI has Kim under surveillance, they don’t pick him up. This gives him time to hatch his devious scheme to stop the eyewitness from testifying, as some 450 poisonous snakes (CGI created and some live ones) were sneaked onto the cargo section and are released by a timed mechanism once the flight is halfway to Los Angeles. Since they’ve been sprayed with pheromones, as were the leis given to the passengers, this makes the snakes hyper-aggressive and they start attacking everyone in sight. The crew consists of uncool womanizer co-pilot Rick (David Koechner) and the gutsy flight attendants Claire Miller (Julianna Margulies), Tiffany (Sunny Mabrey) and Grace (Lin Shaye). The passengers are all stereotypes: an elitist cranky foreigner, a terrified first-time flyer, two children flying alone, a woman with a baby, a single woman with a cutesy toy dog, a horny couple, a fat lady and an obnoxious egotistical rapper called Three G’s (Flex Alexander) and his bodyguard Troy (Kenan Thompson). The supposed fun is watching the different ways the snakes get them, which gives the audience a chance to cheer or hiss as the snakes do their thing. There’s also a subplot of FBI agent Harris (Bobby Cannavale) working on the ground as he arrests the supplier of the snakes and has his men arrest the crime lord, and then gets a reptile expert Dr. Price (Todd Louiso) to get the right antidotes for the snake bitten vics.

I thought it was better than the 1975 Airport. That might not be a recommendation, but if it’s a fanboy gross-out flick you’re looking for that has no problem being what it is–then look no further than SOAP.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”