“It’s not Citizen Kane, it’s Snakes on a Plane”

This jewel was uttered by a guy sitting near me at the midnight showing of Snakes on a Plane at AMC Loews Boston Common Theater yesterday. Fifteen minutes before showtime, he was on the phone trying to convince a friend to come to the theater. It’s a shame his friend didn’t show.

That little couplet serves as the perfect review of Snakes on a Plane. It is also a no-contest rebuttal to any criticism of the movie. Do the first fifteen minutes of the movie exist only to get everyone on Pacific Air Flight 121 as fast as possible? Yes, but even that was a little long for some in the audience. Are some of the characters shallow, and are some of the actors really bad? Of course! Do the effects pale in comparison to Pirates of the Caribbean? Damn straight!

It is a little cheesy, a little scary, and quite a bit funny, all in the right proportions. Most importantly, it does not take itself too seriously. “Snakes” is a good B-movie, something I feel like I haven’t seen in a while. When was the last time you saw a really bad police interrogation scene?

Should you see Snakes on a Plane? Yes, but if you weren’t in Theater 16 on Thursday night you’ve already missed the greatest showing there will ever be of this movie. I invited my friend Mike to the show, and he brought a printout of the Snakes on a Plane Participation Script. Well before showtime, he helped the audience learn the key lines: anytime the asian bad guy finishes a sentence, yell “…in bed!”; anytime a sentence ends in “snakes,” yell “motherfucking snakes!”; anytime Samuel L Jackson yells at someone, add “...bitch!” for emphasis; etc. It was a little like a Rocky Horror Screening, except that nobody had seen the movie yet. So when the entire theater found out that adding “in bed” actually works for damn near everything the asian guy says, it was hilarity topped with the joy of discovery.

I wouldn’t trust any reviewer who wasn’t in a theater with the electric atmosphere and audience participation I experienced last night. The story of SoaP’s development and production has been one of collaboration between the filmmakers, the fans, and especially Sam himself. For this movie to work that collaboration must extend to the screenings as well. Putting the burden of the entertainment on the film itself is a dereliction of duty by the audience. So print out the wiki, bring some rubber snakes, and do your part!

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