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Snakes on a Plane
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the film isn't for kids. It features frequent jump scenes, with snakes falling or darting out of compartments or from under the camera frame. On-screen or implied deaths are frequent and bloody (man killed with baseball bat, shoot-out leaves bodies, many characters bitten by venomous snakes, producing swelling wounds and visible blood). A couple has sex in the bathroom (and also disable the smoke detector so they can smoke a joint), and are immediately killed by snakes. Infant and children are threatened by snakes; a little boy is bitten, producing gross wound from which a woman sucks the poison (leading to crude comment from observer, who also wants her to suck his hand). Characters chop and smash snakes. Characters use frequent bad language, especially "motherf----r."
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Hawaii vacationer Sean (Nathan Philips) witnesses a drug kingpin (Byron Lawson) murdering his legal prosecutor. Instantly targeted for death himself, Sean is rescued by federal agent Neville Flynn (Samuel L. Jackson), who arranges to escort him back to the States to testify. Within minutes, snakes that have been smuggled on board the plane are awakened and let loose.
Is it any good?
True to its title, SNAKES ON A PLANE doesn't offer much beyond this basic plot point. The chaos is episodic and ridiculous, producing lots of swollen, bloodied bodies as well as stiffly delivered bad dialogue. Flynn and the sensible flight attendant Claire (Julianna Margulies) are plainly the couple-to-be, and they valiantly fight off the menace posed by the snakes and the mostly idiotic (that is, set up to die) passengers. They are helped in their efforts by the many-times-bitten copilot Rick (David Koechner) and rapper Three Gs (Flex Alexander)'s video game fanatic bodyguard Troy (Kenan Thompson) (you can guess what role he'll play by film's end).
As kooky and deliberately "bad" as Snakes tries to be, it's mostly just unimaginative. The main action is more repetitive than clever (snakes slide and bite, victims clutch wounds and gasp). For a movie that seems aware of its predecessors, you'd expect more intelligence concerning what made those B-movies so much fun. Their cheesiness was not arrogant or presumptive; it was strange, shrewd, and unexpected.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the fear that planes generate. Why are snakes scary (and how are they exaggerated here to seem slithery, cold-eyed creatures)?
How does the film use clichés and stereotypes (the fat Asian woman, the selfish black rapper, the gay-seeming flight attendant, the noble female flight attendant, etc.)? Are they funny or offensive?
- In theaters: August 18, 2006
- On DVD or streaming: January 2, 2007
- Cast: Julianna Margulies, Rachel Blanchard, Samuel L. Jackson
- Director: David R. Ellis
- Studio: New Line
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 105 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language, a scene of sexuality and drug use, and intense sequences of terror and violence