This hasn’t been the summer for great movies. I’m beaten down, tired of searching. I’m giving up. I’ve been accused of “losing touch” with what makes for a good movie (and you critics can just bite me: Underworld: Evolution was not a good movie). Every now and then, however, I will gleefully settle for popcorn movie junk. Yes, sometimes it’s the little things that make me happy. Little plot. Little acting. Little directorial sense. And yet, I’m a happy man.

Snakes on a Plane is not a movie destined for Oscar consideration. It is what it is and doesn’t pretend to be anything else. Let me boil down the carefully constructed plot for those unaware: there are snakes. They’re on a plane. In one of my favorite bits of dialogue, the bad guy explains that he has obviously exhausted every other option. [This is why black people talk in movies. I mean, really? You’ve really exhausted every other option? How many plans do you have to go through–follow me now, cause I don’t think you hear me–how many plans do you have to go through before you get to snakes on a plane? Don’t make me start having church on you in the middle of this review.]

The interest in the final movie product is the culmination of an Internet hype fest. Various web sites, from snakes on a blog to the one that allowed a friend of mine to have Samuel L. Jackson call me and tell me why I need to go see this movie. – the campaign has built a special level of buzz for a, at best, B-movie. Sadly, it may usher in a new era of Internet marketing.

Ever since Amos and Andrew, I’ve been leading a campaign calling for both Nicholas Cage and Samuel L. Jackson to fire their agents. However, I’ve come to realize that they are both nerds are heart. They love to do the occasional genre piece (Nicholas Cage has been rumored for the lead role in just about every super-hero movie in development; and who didn’t hear of how hard Samuel L. Jackson lobbied to be in the Star Wars prequel trilogy?). They simply can’t help themselves.

Samuel L. Jackson has come a long way. He was the “lone brotha sent down the long dark hallway by himself” in Jurassic Park, he was swallowed in mid-rallying speech in Deep Blue Sea (which, fun crap movie aside, still ranks as one of the best death scenes ever), and now he’s staring in his own horror flick. He still pulls off playing the action hero at his age, coasting on the power of his badass persona.

Jackson’s at least is having fun, while many others seem to be walking through the movie, except for Julianna Margulies, who is also no stranger to the occasional odd genre project (The Mists of Avalon, Ghost Ship). To be fair, this may be because they don’t have much to work with. We’re here to see snakes on a plane, not someone attempting their Oscar turn. What we’re left with are stock characters-cum-fodder: a cop partner about to retire; a flight attendants last flight (the equivalent of a cop partner about to retire); a newlywed couple, one of whom is an uneasy flyer; a high maintenance rapper; a high maintenance businessman; and a high maintenance rich girl. Not to mention the “plot” machinations of the “plan”: a criminal boss has to eliminate a witness to him murdering a prosecutor. In other words, a lot of set up, as if it mattered. All the dialogue and “characterization” felt every bit the time filler until the snakes are set loose. The whole film had an ad hoc sense to it, as scenes and dialogue were obviously added in (you can practically see the seams in the movie).

“Do as I say, you live.” –Neville Flynn (Samuel L. Jackson)

At first the snakes seem to follow the rules of horror deconstructed in the Scream movies, going after “sinners” (such as the promiscuous couple) like an Old Testament plague. Now would be the time when I would ordinarily delve into an excursus into the iconic nature of serpents in the Christian story. From the serpent in the garden of Eden, to Moses in Pharaoh’s court and with the nation of Israel, to how Christ came to crush the head of the serpent under his heel. However, seriously, this is Snakes on a Plane. Even for me that would be a stretch.

“It’s all about choices we make.” –Neville Flynn

I could almost make the case that the overall truth of the movie is how we have a responsibility to the truth. The truth sometimes requires sacrifice; doing the right thing isn’t always easy. The prosecutor dies, his “noble gesture”, due to his commitment to the truth and seeing justice done. The witness (Nathan Phillips) has to learn to stand up and do the right thing in light of the truth.

This would be two spiritual touchstones to discuss about this movie … if you actually decided to turn on your brain for this one. I mean, do I have to remind you? Snakes on a Plane.

Snakes on a Plane is a jump-fest and even though you know it is and the jumps are predictable, you jump nonetheless. Well, I did anyway. Not since Showgirls (yeah, I said it) have I seen a movie so bad it was cheesily good.

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