MOVIE REVIEWS: SNAKES ON A PLANE

Film critics finally were given a chance to see Snakes on a Plane Thursday night and many of them stayed up late afterwards to knock out their reviews. Most succeeded only in posting them on their respective papers' websites, but some also were able to speed them out fast enough to get them in print, many of the reviews tagged with the word "Exclusive!" above the headline. New Line, the studio releasing the movie, is likely to be stunned by the initial reception, which has been highly positive for the most part. Paraphrasing the unprintable catchphrase in the movie, Christopher Borelli wrote in the Toledo Blade: "I just got back from ^&$# seeing those &%[email protected] snakes on that ^*#@ plane, and let me tell you something, ^%#[email protected] - it's kinda fun." Kyle Smith in the New York Post opined that the film is "horribly good" -- an old-fashioned good Bad Movie. "The film failed to be frightening, suspenseful or dramatic but accidentally succeeded in being absolutely hilarious," Smith wrote. Peter Howell in the Toronto Star observed that since all the hype over the movie began spreading on the Internet, moviegoers have been waiting to see whether Snakes on a Plane would "suck." Howell commented, "The coils were finally loosened late last night, and the venomous verdict -- wait for it -- is that Snakes really does suck. It also hisses, bites, chokes, terrifies and amuses far more than anyone had any reason to hope or even suspect. You wanted snakes on a muthalovin' plane, baby -- and why go if you didn't? -- and you got 'em." Sean P. Means in the Salt Lake Tribune came to the same conclusion -- that it delivers what the audience expects. Wrote Means: "It's a movie that knows what it is, and is quite content to play within those parameters. You don't come to a movie with such a matter-of-fact title and expect Shakespearean brilliance." And Richard Roeper in the Chicago Sun-Times ticked off several over-the-top lines from the film, then summed up: "Now that's what I call your campy entertainment."

Box office analysts are not betting that director Steve Pink's teen comedy Accepted will find much acceptance from ticket buyers this weekend. The same can be said of the critics, who mostly bestowed so-so reviews on the film, about a high-school grad who invents his own college on the Internet when he is turned down by the colleges that he applied for. Carrie Rickey in the Philadelphia Inquirer says that the film starts off promisingly enough but in the end, "comes off as sophomoric." Likewise, Elizabeth Weitzman writes in the New York Daily News: "Like its underachieving protagonist, Steve Pink's teen comedy Accepted flashes just enough charm to get by but is too lazy to really make anything of itself." Stephen Williams in Newsday finds the premise of the movie disconcerting: "that self-indulgence is a substitute for structured education, or, more to the point, that it's a substitute for life." But Ty Burr in the Boston Globe writes that it's a mistake to take Accepted too seriously. He writes: "The movie plays like Animal House extra-lite, and as such it's decent indecent fun."

Those gift baskets that Oscar presenters receive from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences are taxable income, the IRS warned Thursday. On the heels of the IRS announcement, the Academy said it would eliminate the gift baskets, which reportedly are now worth about $100,000. The exact amount will be known when the recipients of the baskets receive a tax form in a few weeks listing the fair market value. Today's (Friday) Los Angeles Times observed that the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences has informed this year's Emmy presents that their gift bags are also taxable. The newspaper pointed out that other film festivals present expensive gifts to celebrities. IRS Commissioner Mark V. Everson told the Times: "There was an awful lot of publicity about the ever-increasing value of these baskets. ... And somebody said, 'Why don't we do something about this?' It was just so clearly taxable we felt we had to step in."

Warner Bros. President Alan Horn has apologized to the studio's financial partners who helped fund the string of money losers and underperformers that the studio put out this year. "All I can say to our partners is the same thing I say to our people here at Warner Bros.: It's painful to lose money on a movie," Horn told today's (Friday) Los Angeles Times. "We are in the business for the long term. We are producing a slate of movies and some will work and some will not." The newspaper observed that Warner Bros. partnered on virtually every film it released this year and quoted entertainment analyst Harold Vogel as saying that perhaps easy access to private equity funding clouded its choices. "Maybe Warner Bros. got a little inebriated, and it distorted their normally good judgment," Vogel said. "Everyone can have a bad year. Just the same, I don't understand how a smart management team like Warner Bros. could have made Poseidon or Lady in the Water."

Brian B. at Movieweb
Brian B.