By popular request: my Snakes on a Plane story. I’ve told this story a few times; enjoy.
Snakes on a Plane is one of those ridiculous movies where the premise is so preposterous that it becomes a can’t miss sort of thing– a Hollywood high concept thing,like Cowboys vs. Aliens, or Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Snakes had Samuel L. Jackson, dropping F-bombs and fighting snakes–I’d seen the previews, and knew it was One of Those. A terrible movie in every sense.
So. Summer of 2006, I was in San Diego. A local theatre was doing a play of mine; I was in town to meet with the cast, and see the production. I didn’t have a lot of money, and San Diego hotels are notoriously expensive, so I ended up at the cheapest place I could find: the San Diego Motel Six Hotel. Accommodations were a tribute to the virtues of monkish austerity; basically a bed and a bathroom. Best of all, the location: San Diego’s a nice town, but it has a skeevy section, and that’s where we were. Next door to the hotel was a cafe, where for breakfast you could get french toast, a glass of OJ and two slices of bacon for $3.50. You got your food, and then sat in plastic chairs outside the place, eating breakfast and watching a SWAT team chase down drug dealers on the roof of the building across the street. I enjoyed it, especially enjoyed chatting with my fellow inmates, and became friends with Carlos and Julio, in town for a kick-boxing tournament. Carlos was competing, and Julio was his trainer/coach.
So one day, I didn’t have anything going on, and after breakfast, thought maybe I’d see some sights–Sea World, perhaps? I went out to my rental car, and a woman was draped across it. She was in bad shape; incoherent, a nasty sore on her leg. I couldn’t get her off the car, and went back to the hotel to ask for help. The desk clerk was no help. It was apparently hotel policy to Not Get Involved. But Carlos and Julio were in the lobby, and they overheard me and went out with me to the parking lot.
Julio, turns out, was an EMT. That meant, in California, he legally had to help someone in need of medical attention. Not that he wouldn’t have anyway. So he checked the woman out, and the three of us got her in the car and got out our phones and found the closest hospital. We dropped her off there, and talked to their staff–they said they’d take good care of her–she was in bad shape, and the docs said it was a good thing we’d brought her in.
And then the three of us looked at each other, kind of psyched. I mean, it’s not every day you get to save someone’s life. We were pumped. And Carlos said, “man, we should do something, maybe go to a movie or something.” And I said, “absolutely.” Back to our cell phones, we found a theater close by. And it was showing Snakes on a Plane.
It was a perfect movie for that situation. Of course, it was ridiculous. But it had lots of action, lots of nasty snakes for Our Heroes to fight off, lots of completely gratuitous sex and violence, lots of stupid dialogue. I love the moralism of films like that. It’s not just that the bad guys lose and the good guys win (and find Troo Luv). The nasty Aussie businessman that tosses a lap dog into the maws of a python–he’s evil and must die. But the selfish jerk rapper character finds a way to redeem himself. The hot couple who crowd into a lavatory together are going to be killed by a snake, while the hot girl with the dog ends up being saved by the kickboxer. (And let me tell you, there’s nothing like watching a movie with a heroic kickboxer in the company of two kickboxers). We were laughing, cheering, making snarky comments, me, Julio and Carlos, the only three people at that matinee. It was a thoroughly satisfactory movie experience.
So, Snakes on a Plane. A bad movie, to be sure. But it turns out to be the perfect movie to watch with two Hispanic kickboxers after saving the life of a drug addict prostitute.
To everything, a season and a time. . . .