"Snakes on the Plane" opens with shots of Hawaii and an upbeat song titled "All I See is Sunny Skies." Suddenly, a prosecuting attorney is gutted, which is witnessed by Sean Jones (Nathan Phillips). When a federal department agent named Flynn (Samuel L. Jackson) takes Sean into protective custody, the arch villain plots to prevent Sean from testifying. Acting from a tip by informers, the arch villain sneaks venomous snakes aboard the plane in to the hopes of crash landing the commercial jet.
“Snakes on the Plane” follows the Alfred Hitchcock pattern of showing the audience danger when the characters are blissfully unaware of it. There are many bare feet in an airplane when snakes first begin slithering through the coach section. There is Freudian terror when a man goes into the bathroom to relieve himself.
The film maintains the clichés from modern horror movies. The first victims are pot smoking initiates of the mile high club. These horny hippies disconnect the smoke detector of the bathroom to smoke marijuana. As anyone who has seen a “Friday the 13th” or a "Scream" movie can testify, sex and drugs lead to a violent doom in a summer horror movie.
There are the archetype characters galore flying with “Snakes on a Plane.” There is a rapper superstar whose homeys refer to as the Howard Hughes of Rap, not because of his money and fame, but because of the rap star’s germ phobia. There is the loudmouth mean snob who the audience wants to feed to an anaconda. There are two brothers who torment each other, a loud fat woman and a little dog. While this flick is an ensemble piece, Samuel L. Jackson is the ring leader and gives a charismatic performance. With the leadership skills worthy of John Wayne combined with the cool of Richard Roundtree, Jackson knows when to act and react to his costars. Jackson's facial reactions to Kenan Thompson make the costar from “Saturday Night Live” a lovable character.
"Snakes on the Plane" does find time to provide some important social commentary. It turns out the snakes on the plane are not native to American or soil, much like the pythons who are eating our Florida gators in the everglades. Only a master mind of evil intentions could concoct a plot to have nature terrorize peace loving Americans.
As we come to the end of another disappointing Summer movie season, "Snakes on the Plane" provides hope for future Summer Saturday Matinee "B" Movie fun. The producers wisely listened to internet buzz and provided some audience satisfactory scenes. The groundwork is laid for a potential sequel, perhaps “Spiders on a Pleasure Cruise?”