Notes from the back row 

Deadly combinations

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For a few years there, plane movies were taboo. Post 9/11 concerns had studios scrapping or changing a number of movies, including Spider-Man. But after last year’s Flightplan, Redeye and the recent slew of 9/11 films like United 93 it looks like Hollywood is no longer afraid of airplanes.

But New Line is hoping people still are and counting on the unlikely combination of Aviophobia (fear of flying) and Ophidiophobia (fear of snakes) to produce box office success. Add in a little sex, gore and the king of profanity and you have the most talked-about movie of the summer, Snakes on a Plane.

That’s right, SNAKES on a PLANE. Director David R Ellis ( Final Destination 2 ) is the man in the cockpit for this high concept film that’s already benefiting from over a year of Internet hype and arguably one of the best titles in film history.

While the final product has been kept under tight lockdown, hidden from critics and fans alike, here’s the inside scoop: Samuel Jackson is an FBI agent escorting a key witness from Hawaii to LA when a crime boss, intent on killing said witness, orchestrates the release of hundreds of deadly snakes into the sealed plane. (Snakes, of course, are made entirely of biological materials and therefore easier to smuggle through metal detectors than say shoe-bombs, guns or ceramic knives.) Sure, it’s a villainous plan that sounds as if someone from the Batman TV show thought it up, but this is summer movie season and it’s fun, so why not?

Snakes on a Plane is R-rated (with a nice mile-high club scene) and has plenty of gore and violent bubbling poison-induced death. Add in some claustrophiba, some blood, a little chaotic pushing and shoving, and lots of F-bombs (did you know you can only say F*ck once in a PG-13? And it must be non-sexual?) and you end up with a movie that won’t change your life but does promise intensity and humour. Plus, the last movie with this much Internet hype was Blair Witch Project , which made about 140 million bucks. Deadly ass snakes on plane? Can’t go wrong in my opinion.

What can go wrong, simply for the fact that they make at least one of these a year, is another stupid dancing movie trying to fuse bad-boy, hip hop culture with good-girl, classical dancing with a heaping pile of steaming life lessons on the side. Put Honey, Save the last Dance, Dance With Me, White Nights and Dirty Dancing into a blender, add two shovelfuls of festering, fly-ridden pig shit, some after-school special pamphlets, and a handful of dollar store cookie cutters shaped like ballet slippers with vomit on the toes and you have Step Up , the next in a long line of "hey let’s mix ballet with street culture ‘cause that’s never been done before" movies. What’s it about? Guess. Half-ass, bad-ass guy meets dumb-ass, hot-ass girl and they learn about life and respect by meeting each other halfway (that’d be somewhere around ‘ass’) and dance, dance, dance all night long. Oh yeah, he also gives up his life of crime and danger (even though he lives in a ghetto where no one locks their doors).

If you’re into dancing, and I know there are at least 200 kids in town who are, this might be a good flick for you – the dancing is actually not bad, what little of it there is. But if you’re into movies, this is like getting kicked in the groin with tap shoes on, for the 15 th time. This movie could have been awesome though, if it was called Snakes on the Dance Floor and had albino cobras in it. Until then Step Up should just lie down. And die.

AT VILLAGE 8 Aug. 18-24: Accepted; Snakes on a Plane; World Trade Center; Talladega Nights; Step Up; Pulse; Zoom; Barnyard; Miami Vice; Pirates of the Caribbean.

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