More thrills than ‘Snakes on a Plane’?
July 7, 2006
I can’t wait to see “Snakes on a Plane,” even though it won’t be released for at least another month. In fact, I think I may be a bit obsessed.I’m not exactly on the cutting edge of movies in production, but “Snakes” has received a lot of media attention lately, so chances are good that you know about it, too.The plot, as I understand it: Someone releases a whole bunch of snakes on a plane in order to kill someone who’s about to testify against someone. And, luckily for everyone, (except the snakes) Samuel L. Jackson happens to also be onboard this plane.Or, to further condense the plot: snakes on a plane. See why I can’t wait?Perhaps the most famous bit of lore surrounding this film is Jackson’s refusal to let the title be changed. Apparently the execs wanted to change it to “Flight 121” or something equally boring and nonreptilian, and Jackson, unwilling to compromise, demanded that it be called “Snakes on a Plane.” I’m guessing there was probably a BIT of compromise, though, as the rumor I read is that Mr. Jackson demanded it be called “Moth&#%! Snakes on a Moth&#%! Plane.” Here’s another rumor I heard – the script went through several VERY rough drafts before settling on the idea that it would involve snakes. The only two things the screenwriters knew early on was that it would star Samuel L. Jackson, and it would take place on a plane.Here are some of the earlier versions: “Shih Tzus on a Plane” – A box of yapping Shih Tzus is released in an overbooked trans-Atlantic flight for reasons that don’t matter much. Though not venomous, these hyperactive little microdogs wreak unspeakable havoc on the passengers, especially those trying to get a little sleep. One of them makes its way into the cockpit by slipping through the keyhole and begins to emit an incessant, shrill little bark. The pilot and co-pilot have no choice but to hit their emergency eject buttons – the big red button with the picture of the Shi Tzu on it – parachuting themselves into the ocean and leaving the passengers to fend for themselves. Samuel L. Jackson is powerless against these mosquitoes of the dog world, and by the end of act two is whimpering in the corner while several of them lick his face. “Jehovah’s Witnesses on a Plane” – The good thing about snakes is that you might get lucky and be bitten by the kind that causes death in less than eight seconds. Not so with the JWs. Once the box of Watchtower magazines is released from the overhead storage compartment, the passengers and flight crew pray for the sweet, sweet relief that death would bring. Alas, the JWs insist that when you accept their particular version of Jesus Christ as your savior, death is no longer an option. Samuel L. Jackson tries to control the situation, but after hours of having the Bible expertly thumped in his direction, he begins to question the theory of evolution. The audience knows that things have taken an ugly turn when Jackson begins calling them “Jehovah’s Witnesses” rather than “Jehovah’s Moth&#%! Witnesses.” “National Yodeling Finalists on a Plane” – An opera singer is flying to New York to testify against the mob. It is arranged that a group of young, ambitious yodelers with their eyes on the national title are on the same plane, and insist on doing vocal warm-ups for the entire flight, thereby driving the opera singer, and the audience, to the brink of madness. At one point, Samuel L. Jackson, with wads of toilet paper stuffed in his ears, picks up a yodeler by the ankles and begins using him as a weapon against the others. “People Who Insist on Staring at Your Laptop Screen on a Plane” – This was a very early draft of what eventually became “Snakes.” Jackson, an average businessman, is assigned a center seat in the rear of the plane. He attempts to make good use of his flying time by answering some e-mails, but the people on either side of him continually rubberneck into his moth&#%! business. He beats the hell out of them using a rolled-up Sky Mall magazine.