Clint Enns vs. Peter Vasuwalla

In 2006, I wrote a letter to the editor at Uptown Magazine about Peter Vasuwalla’s review of Snakes on a Plane. Despite calling it “the best movie of the summer – possibly the greatest movie of all time,” it didn’t make his Top Ten list of 2006. My letter is below.

———————————–

A published letter in Uptown Magazine August 31, 2006

Dear Uptown,

Consider this a letter to Peter Vesuwalla regarding his review of Snakes on a Plane.

With all action and no substance or plot, why not spend your time watching porno?

I went to see muthfuckin’ snakes on a muthafuckin’ plane and the only real review one could possibly write if they truly enjoyed Snakes on a Plane is:

‘Snakes on a plane snakes on a plane snakes on a plane snakes on a plane snakes on a plane snakes on a plane snakes on a plane snakes on a plane snakes on a plane snakes on a plane snakes on a plane snakes on a plane snakes on a plane snakes on a muthafuckin’ plane!’

I didn’t really enjoy this movie, so here is my review. If people continue to promote that they are passive spectators then tripe shit will continue to be made in Hollywood.

Applauding when Samuel L. Jackson says “I have had enough of these muthfuckin’ snakes on this muthafuckin’ plane!” does not make you an active spectator, it makes you something else. It is time to demand more from cinema than a simple slogan.

There are plenty of movies packed full of exciting action that still have a plot, substance and interesting characters. Some even have character development and depth. If people continue to buy into mindless entertainment, they will continue to get mindless entertainment. Movies will become as entertaining as Coca-Cola.

– Clint Enns

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The original review from Uptown Magazine August 24, 2006

No liquids or gels allowed
Snakes, on the other hand, are permitted on this flight of foolishness

“I have had enough of these muthfuckin’ snakes on this muthafuckin’ plane!” says Samuel L. Jackson.

“Fuck yeah!’ I think to myself as the audience breaks into thunderous applause.

Snakes on a Plane is, as advertised, an unapologetic, kick-ass thriller about an FBI agent escorting a witness from Hawaii to L.A. when a hit man unleashes hundreds of deadly snakes on the airplane.

No I know what you’re thinking: snakes usually don’t attack unless they’re provoked, but the movie explained that the leis the passengers received while departing Hawaii were sprayed with a pheromone that attracts snakes and makes them aggressive.

Take that, Mr. and Mrs. Smartypants.

This is without a doubt the best movie of the summer – possibly the greatest movie of all time. You want proof? Here it is:

Number of deadly snakes on an aircraft in Citizen Kane: Zero.

Number of deadly snakes on an aircraft in Snakes on a Plane: Lots.

Case Closed.

Crucial to this film is the fact that everything is played completely straight. The phrase “I can’t believe I’m saying this” comes up several times, and there’s a great moment in which Jackson explains that he’s in the middle of a scenario the FBI never anticipated.

Had anyone winked at the camera the film would have unravelled, but director David R. Ellis, who also made the under-rated Final Destination 2, trusts the audience to appreciated the absurdiy of the situation.

I can imagine the meetings Ellis must have had with writers John Heffernan, Sebastian Gutierrez and Davide Dalessandro and how they must have roared with laughter when they came up with the idea of having a snake emerge from the toilet and strike a part of the anatomy most men would least like a snake to bite.

They’ve created a film that’s, in a way, about its own excess. To laugh at the movie is to laugh with it.

Not everybody gets that. Since I saw the movie (the night before writing this review) I’ve probably been asked nearly 100 times if it’s as awful as it looks. And the truth is if you’re not sold on the title alone you’re probably going to be baffled by the appeal of the film.

I feel sorry for people who can’t bring themselves to get excited about a film called Snakes on a Plane, and I’m willing to bet they’re the same people who didn’t like Anaconda, Deep Blue Sea and Eight legged Freaks, all movies people enjoyed while watching, laughing and screaming in all the right place – an then later distanced themselves from.

But it’s my job to be perfectly honest about my moviegoing experience, and I couldn’t get enough of those muthfuckin’ snakes on that muthafuckin’ plane.

– Peter Vesuwalla

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A follow-up from Uptown Magazine August 31, 2006

As quickly as pundits jumped on the Snakes on a Plane bandwagon, they were lining up to point out that the film didn’t come anywhere near the studio’s expectations for box-office draw.

So let me just get this straight for a moment: Someone comes up with an idea for a movie called Snakes on a Plane. It’s about snakes on a plane. It opens to mostly positive reviews despite not having been pre-screened for critics, and it makes over $15 million US in its first weekend (more than doubling the highest gross of any Canadian feature-ever). Yet it’s still considered a failure.

Sometimes I just don’t understand Hollywood at all.

– Peter Vesuwalla

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Another follow-up from Uptown Magazine September 7, 2006

To hell with you
Vesuwalla takes issue with those who think movie critics are idiots

“are you being sarcastic?” everyone keeps asking.

“No,” I keep saying. “Snakes on a Plane is one of the best movies I’ve seen all year.”

I’m not entirely sure what people have a harder time believing: that a movie called Snakes on a Plane might actually be good or that a film critic might recommend it.

As a matter of face, 69 per cent of the reviews compiled at http://www.rottentomatoes.com are positive. Despite that , the film is a box-office failure by summer-blockbuster standards, so the assurance of critics haven’t been enough to get asses in theatre sears.

yet director David R. Ellis is on record as having said, “This is a movie for audiences, not critics.”

It’s hardly news that film critics have shockingly little influence over box-office numbers these days, and a recent article by MSNBS’s Erik Lundegaard, titled “Why film critics matter,” presents a pretty shaky argument.

Lundegaard dispels the myth of the elitist critic by showing a correlation between how films are rated on rottentomatoes.com and the very democratic Internet Movie Database. He lists 14 films, all of which the studios chose not to preview for critics (a trend that’s becoming increasingly common), and found the public generally agreed with critics anyway.

Then Lundegaard goes on to defend elitism by rightly stating that critics can be informative, entertaining and articulate. But his examples only apply to critics who have personally changed his own opinions of a few specific films.

He makes a lot of great points but the problem is that he only shows why critics matter to a select few films buffs, but not to the masses.

Perhaps it’s because great film criticism went the way of great films. Gone are the days when Pauline Kael could send a film to both both box-office and Oscar glory with one New Yorker review – but look at the films show was reviewing: Bonnie and Clyde (1967), Last Tango in Paris (1972), Carrie (1976), …. some of the most superb, daring and groundbreaking examples of the artform.

In a summer that’s brought us so many disposable pieces of crap – such as R.V., Pulse, Zoom, Ultraviolet, Little Man and The Benchwarmers – is it any wonder that reviewers are abandoning intellectual discourse in favour of simply banging their heads against the wall?

I can understand why anyone remotely likely to enjoy any of these films might ignore critics altogether. Really I get that. What I don’t understand is how anyone can read a positive review of a movie called Snakes on a Plane and still not be convinced.

– Peter Vesuwalla

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~ by cineflyer on April 5, 2011.

2 Responses to “Clint Enns vs. Peter Vasuwalla”

  1. Snakes are born free, but are everywhere in planes.

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