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Saturday, August 19, 2006

Explain Yourself (SoaP edition)

Ever been around a group of people and feel like you're missing something because you're not in on a joke? For some, that can be an everyday part of life, but for others there are certain times when you just don't understand what the hell is going on. Well, I've been feeling the latter in the last few weeks mainly because of Snakes on a Plane.

From what I gather, people my age are attracted to the ludicrous nature of a film about snakes getting loose on a plane. There's something really funny about this concept, but they won't admit to why they think this is so funny. New Line Cinema has been led into thinking that people actually really want to enjoy this movie while people my age want something to laugh at. In other words, the same mindset that goes for "reality" shows wants to see Snakes on a Plane.

There is an odd sense of enjoyment in watching failure and embarrassment as long as it's not us looking at our own failures and embarrassing moments. We say sincere stuff along with cynical and ironic things every day in verbal conversations. But when we put just the cynicism and irony in print (be it a blog, message board post, e-mail, etc.) the subtleties and tone get thrown out the window. That said, I'm convinced that people started blogging about Snakes on a Plane mainly to laugh it. New Line thought these bloggers were sincerely excited, thus allowing extra days of filming and a rating upgrade to an R-rating. The studio knows that this isn't Citizen Kane, but I think they've been easily led into thinking that people really want to see this film for sincere reasons.

Remember when The Blair Witch Project came out? People were buzzing about it because it was a much different horror movie that was pretty scary. People wanted to be scared and had a genuine interest in the film. With Snakes on a Plane, I sense there is no genuine interest. I sense the worst in all of us putting stock in a cinematic equivalent of our parents singing along to "Don't Stop Believin'" in the shower. Are we so desperate in trying to take our minds off our own faults?

Last night, I talked with some friends of mine who are interested in seeing the film and I wanted to hear their thoughts about why they want to see it. They see this as an event and know this is not going to be a really dense film. I'm sure I'm going to hear more thoughts like these tonight when I meet up some other friends. Yet in a case like this, trying to get real answers feels like dental surgery without sedation. This is just like having someone explain to you an in-joke that isn't really funny in the first place. The joke itself gets one of those "You had to be there to understand" kind of explanations. I grumble at this.

The closest answers I've read online so far are from some of my favorite writers. Chuck Klosterman did a great piece for Esquire a while back and Peter Travers' review appeared online today. Travers hit the nail on the head with his write-up, including the fantastic final line of: "SoaP is a movie of its time, best remembered not for its content but for its motherfuckin' marketing campaign." A part of me wishes others would write the multi-pronged truth instead of a "hee-hee/haa-haa" cynical idea of truth.

Sure, Snakes on a Plane is set to make a lot of money for New Line and theater owners. I get the feeling that like the pile of forgettable spooky thrillers that came out following The Sixth Sense, we're in for a bumpy ride for what's coming out post-SoaP. I'm hoping somebody will eventually fess up and say "it was all a joke."

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

you know what? it is a joke. and, we all know it. the real question is why you do not seem to be aware of the fact that your friends and the others you have talked to about this movie know that is a joke? why do you consider everyone and fine line studios to be less aware then you?

Eric Grubbs said...

I'm very well aware that my friends are aware. I just don't understand why they find this entertaining. I wish they would be a little more forthcoming and not speak in hushed tones and giggles about the appeal of this film.

captain groovy said...

by the way.I hate reality shows.That was a rather broad generalization.Which is cool.Stereotyping is often more accurate than folks want to admit.
Or maybe i'm an exception to the rule.

captain groovy said...

Also by the way I like the movie because it is like an amusement park ride.It's scary,ridiculous, & fun.Yes watching big snakes bite people in inappropriate places is fun.Watching Samuel Jackson do a parody of himself being a badass is fun.Yelling at the screen & making snake noises with a big crowd is fun.Does this mean i'm lowering my standards somehow?Was i tricked into thinking i had a good time?
And the next day i saw The Illusionist & had an entirely different yet just as entertaining experience.
The Angelika & Magnolia are full of films for the intellectual person.Why people would want to see motherfuckin Al Gore talk about the motherfuckin weather!! is beyond me but hey to each his own.
Then again i own the dvd of Eight Legged Freaks.Hmmmm Spiders On A Boat..I'd go see it.
People are scared of snakes.People are scared of planes.Put the 2 together & you have a film that appeals to peoples sense of adventure.And it's funny to boot.
Don't you like rollercoasters?
Now when does Spiderman 3 come out?
Love your blog Eric but on this one i think you are being wayyyyy to serious.

amy said...

from the commercials i've seen and reviews that i've heard, i think that SoaP is a poor excuse for a movie. i have absolutely no desire to see it and don't see the "fun" in it at all.

seems like it's a good movie for teenagers. they get things like that.

Eric Grubbs said...

I'm not a fan of rollercoasters. I'm not a fan of watching snakes bite people. I've never understood what was funny about the "owww" kind of reaction set forth in a film like There's Something About Mary.

Wanting to understand the appeal of this film is like trying to understand why my middle school and high school classmates would scream whenever the lights went out. I wonder if it's like a lemming/gang mentality. From what I've seen and heard, this ain't for me.

captain groovy said...

yep the rollercoater comment cinched it.thats the point you're not the target audience.But don't be angry that some people do get it.You seem like a very serious person & this is definitely not a serious movie.
As i have gotten older i have realized that lots of folks like lots of things that i will never understand.But it doesn't make me better or smarter or wiser just different.When i was younger i used to get really angry about stuff like that.Now who cares to each his own.
You're simply not a fart joke kind of guy.No harm in that.I would be interested in what the last movie you saw was.

Eric Grubbs said...

The Outsiders - The Complete Novel version with 22 extra minutes put back into the original. Never seen the movie before but was really moved by it.