Maybe you've read a little something about this movie called "Snakes on a Plane."
The preordained catchphrase from the most buzzed-about title of the year is Samuel L. Jackson's "I've had it with these m----------- snakes on this m----------- plane!"
Not so fast.
Allow me to share some other, even more entertaining howlers from this violent, silly and ultimately unimaginative, glorified B-movie:
* Jerky passenger, after tossing somebody else's pet to a giant snake to save his own skin: "Any one of you would have done the same!"
* FBI agent on the plane, formulating a plan after approximately a MILLION snakes have been unleashed on a planeload of passengers: "We have to put a barrier between us and the snakes!"
* FBI agent on the ground, hearing about a mobster's scheme to execute a government witness by planting dozens and dozens of poisonous snakes on his flight: "What kind of an insane plan is that!?"
* Flight attendant, addressing the beleaguered and bloodied surviving passengers, most of whom have probably seen the original "Airplane!": "I can't believe I'm saying this, but does anybody here know how to fly a plane?"
Now that's what I call your campy entertainment.
To be sure, when Jackson delivered his anticipated-almost-to-the-point-of-saturation signature line about 90 minutes into the Thursday night screening I attended ("Snakes" wasn't screened in advance for critics), about half the audience recited it with him and burst into applause — but there wasn't much joy in the moment. It felt obligatory.
And by then, I was thoroughly snaked out.
There are only so many ways a snake can kill a passenger — snake to the neck, snake to the eye, snake to the bosom, snake to the crotch, snake down the throat — before it gets boring and kinda depressing.
Ditto for the ways in which one can kill a snake. You chop it, you squeeze it, you shoot it, you set fire to it, you read the screenplay to "Snakes on a Plane" to it and it lapses into an irreversible coma.
Of course, we're not supposed to expect anything more beyond going along for the ride on this would-be roller-coaster thriller, but the setup is beyond ludicrous, and it sucks some of the enjoyment from the flight before it even takes off. For nearly a year now, the fanboys and the Internet buzz-hounds and the mainstream media have been talking about the stupid genius of that sky-high concept of a title — but I don't remember seeing anything that explained exactly how and why those snakes came to nest on that particular plane.
The very bland Nathan Phillips plays Sean Jones, who has the bad luck to witness an execution carried out by super-evil gangster martial artist bad guy Eddie Kim (Byron Lawson). Jackson is FBI agent Nelville Flynn, who will be escorting Jones on a flight from Honolulu to Los Angeles.
Kim, of course, wants Jones dead. So he obtains an incredibly diverse collection of international killer snakes from a snake dealer who's based in Los Angeles.
Kim and his henchmen succeed in sneaking crate after crate of poisonous snakes onto the plane, even though the FBI has swept the plane. Every passenger on the departing flight is given a lei as a lovely parting gift — but what they don't know is that those leis have been sprayed with pheromones, and once that flight is on its way, those pheromones will turn the snakes into crazed killers.
I know. It's a plan so simple it's BRILLIANT, brilliant, I tell you!
"Snakes on a Plane" isn't quite campy enough to be consistently funny and isn't scary enough to be a quality guilty pleasure. There are a few good gross-out moments, a couple of funny lines and some earnest performances from the cast, but without that title and a year's worth of Internet-fueled buzz, this would be just another forgettable, mildly entertaining, mid-August throwaway movie.