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14 Slithery Facts About Snakes on a Plane

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While the plot is hardly the point of Snakes on a Plane, we may as well mention that the 2006 movie starred Samuel L. Jackson as Neville Flynn, an FBI agent tasked with escorting the key witness in a murder trial against mob boss Eddie Kim (Byron Lawson) from Hawaii to California. It's Kim who is responsible for smuggling a bunch of poisonous snakes onto the aircraft on which Flynn and his charge are traveling, in an attempt to kill the witness (played by Nathan Phillips). The movie achieved a ton of internet buzz and was more transparently fan-sourced than any other film in history.

1. THE ORIGINAL SCRIPT WAS TURNED DOWN BY EVERY HOLLYWOOD STUDIO.

David Dalessandro, the associate vice chancellor of university development at the University of Pittsburgh, wrote a screenplay called Venom after reading a 1992 magazine article about Indonesian brown tree snakes climbing onto planes during World War II. His first two drafts were about one poisonous snake getting loose on a plane. After seeing Aliens, he realized he needed to have a lot more snakes and that they needed to be a deadly breeds like the Australian taipan. In 1995, the script was offered up to all 30 Hollywood studios—and all of them said no. Four years later, Craig Berenson—an executive at DreamWorks—remembered the script and pitched the idea to his colleagues over margaritas. Explaining the concept and then the title, Snakes on a Plane, the room reportedly "exploded with groans." He took that as a good sign. ''A visceral reaction is half the battle," Berenson explained. "That was gold as far as I was concerned.''

2. SAMUEL L. JACKSON AGREED TO STAR IN THE MOVIE BEFORE HE EVEN READ THE SCRIPT.

Jackson read in the trades that Ronny Yu was directing a movie called Snakes on a Plane. Intrigued, Jackson emailed Yu and asked him what the movie was about. "And he said, 'Poisonous snakes get loose on an airplane.' And I'm like, 'Wow, think I can be in that?' And he was like, 'You really want to be in it?' And I said 'Yes, I really want to be in it.'"

Though Yu eventually left the project (he was replaced by David R. Ellis), Jackson stayed on. Julianna Margulies (flight attendant Claire Miller) admitted that seeing Jackson's name attached to the ridiculous title "elevated" the project in her eyes. David Koechner (co-pilot Rick) also agreed to do the movie after hearing the title and that Jackson would be starring. When asked about the most outrageous lie he's ever read about himself, Koechner told MTV, "That I did Snakes on a Plane for free ... That was something on Wikipedia."

3. JACKSON ALMOST QUIT WHEN THE TITLE WAS CHANGED.

New Line Cinema changed the movie's title to Pacific Air 121, with the official explanation that the studio "didn't want to give too much away" about the movie. Jackson disagreed with that logic. ''I was like, ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR F***ING MINDS?! That's EXACTLY what you want to do!'' he told Entertainment Weekly. ''How else are you going to get people into the movie? Nobody wants to see Pacific Air 121. That's like saying Boat to Heaven. People either want to see this movie or they don't. So let 'em know: If you're coming to see this movie, you're going to see a plane full of deadly-ass snakes. That's what it should be called. Deadly-Ass Snakes on a Plane." Jackson forced New Line's hand by telling reporters that he was working on a movie called Snakes on a Plane. Jackson told TIME the title change to Pacific Flight 121 was "the stupidest damn thing I ever heard."

4. JACKSON ALSO GOT UPSET OVER THE INTENDED PG-13 RATING.

After insisting some R-rated versions of scenes should be shot in case New Line changed their minds about making Snakes on a Plane a PG-13 movie, the popularity of the 2005 R-rated comedy Wedding Crashers helped convince the studio president that Snakes "needed more intensity." They went back for re-shoots four months after filming wrapped to add to the viciousness, and, among other things, upgrade the bathroom make-out session to a full-on sex scene.

5. BOBBY CANNAVALE DIDN'T WANT TO BE IN THE MOVIE.

Earlier this year, Bobby Cannavale admitted that he ultimately trusts his gut when deciding on movie and television roles. The one time he listened to his managers was when they insisted he work on Snakes on a Plane, playing Special Agent Hank Harris. "I was like, ‘Guys, it’s called Snakes on a Plane!!!’ I remember this conversation," Cannavale recalled. "They were like, ‘It’s going to be huge! You should do it. Gotta do it. It’s gonna allow you to get cast in other things.’"

6. VEGAS GOT IN ON THE BUILD-UP.

One Las Vegas booking agency took bets on how many times Jackson would "utter his crude catchphrase during the 105-minute film."

7. THE DIRECTOR ORIGINALLY WANTED MORE DANGEROUS SNAKES.

David R. Ellis requested taipans and vipers and other lethal snake species. Snake wrangler Jules Sylvester insisted it would be too dangerous to use actual poisonous snakes on an airplane full of people and a camera crew. Instead, Sylvester provided a bunch of look-alikes: the harmless tiger rat snake rattles its tail like a rattlesnake to defend itself from potential enemies. The same went for a milk snake that doubled convincingly for the deadly Brazilian coral snake.

8. ALL THE STRIKE SEQUENCES WERE COMPUTER-GENERATED.

Only one third of the snakes were real. No more than 60 real snakes were on set at any one time. The snakes were regularly swapped out during filming because, according to Sylvester, "They get tired after 15 or 20 minutes, so we have to change snakes continuously."

9. THE SNAKES GAVE JACKSON HIS SPACE.

"I never even touched a snake while we were shooting," Jackson admitted. "My agents put into the contract: 'No snakes within 25 feet of Mr. Jackson.' They were more scared of the snakes than I was.''

10. THE "MOTHERF*CKER" LINE WAS WRITTEN BY A FAN.

Chris Rohan created an R-rated audio trailer for Snakes on a Plane, just off of the title. A Jackson sound-alike shouted, "I want these motherf*cking snakes off the motherf*cking plane!" Fans then vociferously claimed they wanted Jackson to say that in the real movie. During the R-rated re-shoots, Jackson and the studio obliged.

11. IT WAS DAVID R. ELLIS' IDEA TO NOT SCREEN THE MOVIE FOR CRITICS.

"The decision to not screen it for critics was mine," Ellis told The A.V. Club, "the reason being ... and it's the same reason that we didn't test the movie. The buzz on the internet because of all the fans has been so insane that to screen it—we did not want to kill the buzz." The movie is 68 percent fresh according to the 171 reviews tabulated by Rotten Tomatoes.

12. AUDIENCE MEMBERS TOOK THE TITLE TOO FAR AT ONE SCREENING.

"Pranksters" released two diamondback rattlesnakes during a Phoenix showing of the movie. Nobody was hurt. The snakes were later released into the desert.

13. IT ONLY DID OKAY AT THE BOX OFFICE, DESPITE THE HUGE BUZZ.

"With all the expectations, you have to say we would be disappointed," New Line's president of distribution said about the film's $13.8 million opening weekend. "But Snakes on a Plane did what tracking said it would, and it basically performed like a regular horror movie." Shot on a budget of $33 million, the movie made more than $62 million worldwide.

14. JACKSON HAS NO REGRETS.

“I still choose movies because they are movies I would go see when I was a kid,” Jackson explained. “So when people criticize Snakes on a Plane, I go, well, you know, ‘F— you,’ you know? That’s one of the movies I would have gone to see as a kid, and I am definitely glad to see me in it.”

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Shout! Factory
10 Surprising Facts About Mr. Mom
Shout! Factory
Shout! Factory

John Hughes penned the script for 1983's Mr. Mom, a comedy about a family man named Jack Butler (Micheal Keaton) who loses his job. To ensure their three kids are taken care of, his wife, Caroline (Teri Garr), goes back to work—leaving Jack to fight off a vacuum cleaner and learn why it's never a good idea to feed chili to a baby.

In 1982, Keaton turned in a star-making role in Ron Howard’s Night Shift, but Mr. Mom marked the first time he headlined a movie, and it launched his career. Hughes had written National Lampoon's Vacation, which—oddly enough—was released in theaters the weekend after Mr. Mom. But Hughes himself was still a relative unknown, as it would be another year before he entered the teen flick phase of his career, which would make him iconic.

In the meantime, Mr. Mom hit home for a lot of viewers, as the economy was on the downturn and more and more women were entering (or reentering) the workforce. But some people think that the movie's ending—which sees the couple revert to traditional gender roles—sidelined the movie's message. Still, on the 35th anniversary of its release, Mr. Mom remains an ahead-of-its-time comedy classic.

1. IT'S BASED ON A TRUE STORY.

Mr. Mom producer Lauren Shuler Donner came across a funny article John Hughes had written for National Lampoon. Based on that, she contacted him and the two became friends. “One day, he was telling me that his wife had gone down to Arizona and he was in charge of the two boys and he didn’t know what he was doing,” Donner told IGN. “It was hilarious! I was on the floor laughing. He said, ‘Do you think this would make a good movie?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, this is really funny.’ So he said, ‘Well, I have about 80 pages in a drawer. Would you look at it?’ So I looked at it and I said, ‘This is great! Let’s do it!’ We kind of developed it ourselves.” In the book Movie Moguls Speak, Donner mentioned how Hughes “had never been to a grocery store, he had never operated a vacuum cleaner. John was so ignorant, that in his ignorance, he was hilarious.”

The players involved with the movie told Donner and Hughes they thought it should be a TV movie. Hughes had a TV deal with Aaron Spelling, who came aboard to executive produce. “Then the players involved were upset because John was writing out of Chicago instead of L.A.,” Donner said in Movie Moguls Speak. “They fired John and brought in a group of TV writers. In the end, John and I were muscled out. It was a good movie, but if you ever read John’s original script for Mr. Mom, it’s far better.”

2. JOHN HUGHES REJECTED THE IDEA OF DIRECTING MR. MOM.

Stan Dragoti ended up directing the film, but only after Hughes turned it down, because he preferred to make his movies in Chicago, not Hollywood. “I don’t like being around the people in the movie business,” Hughes told Roger Ebert. “In Hollywood, you spend all of your time having lunch and making deals. Everybody is trying to shoot you down. I like to get my actors out here where we can make our movies in privacy.” Hughes remained in Chicago and filmed his directorial debut, Sixteen Candles, there.

3. MICHAEL KEATON GOT THE ROLE BECAUSE OF NIGHT SHIFT.

In 1982’s Night Shift, Keaton’s character works at a morgue and starts a prostitution ring with co-worker Henry Winkler. Donner had an agent friend, Laurie Perlman, who represented the not-yet-famous actor. She contacted Donner and pitched Keaton to her. “’Look, I represent this guy who is really funny. Would you meet with him?’" Donner recalled of the conversation. "So I met with him. Usually I don’t like to do this unless we’re casting, but I met with him because she was my friend. And then she said, ‘You have to see this movie Night Shift that he’s in.’ So I went to see Night Shift, and midway through I couldn’t wait to get out of that theater to give Mr. Mom to Michael Keaton. Fortunately, he liked it."

Keaton told Grantland that he turned down one of the main roles in Splash to play Jack Butler. “I just remember at the time thinking I wanted to get away from what I’d just done on Night Shift,” he said. “I thought if I do it again, I might get myself stuck. So then Mr. Mom came along. So I said no [to Splash] so I could set up this framework right away where I could do different things.”

4. THE FILM BROKE NEW GROUND.

Teri Garr, Michael Keaton, Taliesin Jaffe, Frederick Koehler, and Martin Mull in Mr. Mom (1983)
Shout! Factory

In 1983, more women stayed at home than worked, so it was a novelty for a man to be a stay-at-home dad. Today, an estimated 1.4 million men are stay-at-home dads, and 7 million men are their children's primary caregiver. “Mr. Mom became part of the vernacular,” Donner told Newsweek. “Mr. Mom represented a segment of men who were at home dealing with the kids who, up until then, really hadn’t been heard from. That’s what really told me about the power of film, because it spoke for a lot of men. It also helped women, because I think that women sometimes, if you’re a housewife, you’re not really appreciated for what you do. This sort of made women feel better about what they did because they knew that men were understanding it.”

5. TODAY, “MR. MOM” IS CONSIDERED A PEJORATIVE TERM.

More than 30 years after the film’s release, stay-at-home dads feel the term “Mr. Mom” should die. The National At-Home Dad Network launched a campaign to terminate the phrase and instead have people refer to men as “Dad.” In 2014 Lake Superior State University voted to banish “Mr. Mom” from the lexicon.

“At least, the pop-culture image of the inept dad who wouldn’t know a diaper genie from a garbage disposal has begun to fade,” wrote The Wall Street Journal, after declaring “Mr. Mom is dead.”

6. TERI GARR DIDN’T KNOW IT WAS A MESSAGE MOVIE.

The movie redefined gender roles, but when the producers pitched the premise to Garr, they hid the plot reversal. “They just told me it was about a guy who does the work that a woman does, because it’s so easy,” she told The A.V. Club. “And I went, ‘Oh, yeah. Ha ha.’ It’s so easy. All the women I know who stay home and take care of their kids, they go, ‘Oh yeah, this is easy.’ Hmm.”

7. MARTIN MULL IMPROVISED THE “220, 221” LINE.

The quote everyone remembers from the movie comes from Jack, holding a chainsaw, standing next to Ron Richardson (Martin Mull) and discussing what kind of wiring Jack will use in renovating the house: “220, 221, whatever it takes,” Jack says.

“We’re doing the scene and it was okay,” Keaton told Esquire. “And I remember saying to the prop guy, ‘Go find me a chainsaw.’ When he comes back with it, he says, ‘You wanna wear these?’ And he holds up some goggles. I go, ‘Yeah.’ You know, they make me look crazy. And when Martin shows up, I know I should look under control, I’m not sweating it. I’m a dude. So we’re standing there, Martin pulls me aside and says, ‘You know what you ought to say? When I ask about the wiring, you oughta just deadpan: ‘220, 221.’ I died. It was perfect. I may have added ‘whatever it takes.’ But it was his.”

“That was a little ad-lib that we just threw in, but every carpenter or construction person I’ve ever worked with, they’re always quoting that line from Mr. Mom,” Mull told The A.V. Club.

8. MR. MOM OUTGROSSED HUGHES’S OTHER 1983 SUMMER MOVIE—VACATION.

Mr. Mom only opened on 126 screens on July 22, 1983, but managed to gross $947,197 during its opening weekend. Once the film went wide a month later to 1235 screens, it hit number one at the box office and spent five weeks at the top. By the end of its run, the film had grossed just shy of $65 million, making it the ninth highest-grossing film of 1983 (just between Staying Alive and Risky Business). National Lampoon’s Vacation, Hughes’s other film that summer, came out July 29 and ended its theatrical run with $61,399,552 (at its height, it showed on 1248 screens). Vacation finished the year in 11th place.

9. THE MOVIE LED TO HUGHES BEING CALLED “A PURVEYOR OF HORNY SEX COMEDIES.”

During a 1986 interview with Seventeen magazine, Molly Ringwald asked the writer-director why he never showed teen sex in Sixteen Candles or The Breakfast Club. “In Sixteen Candles, I figured it would only be gratuitous to show Samantha and Jake in anything more than a kiss,” he said. “The kiss is the most beautiful moment. I was really amused when someone once called me a ‘purveyor of horny sex comedies.’ He listed The Breakfast Club and Mr. Mom in parentheses. I thought, ‘What kind of sex?’ Yes, in Mr. Mom there’s a baby in a bathtub and you see its bare butt.”

10. MR. MOM WAS MADE INTO A TV MOVIE AFTER ALL.

In the beginning, producers wanted Mr. Mom to be a TV movie, not a feature film. But a year after the film came out in theaters, ABC produced a TV movie called Mr. Mom, with the same characters and premise. Barry Van Dyke played Jack and Rebecca York played Caroline. A People magazine review of the movie stated: “They and their three kids are immediately likable … But it goes downhill from there as the script lobotomizes all its characters. Here’s a textbook case in how TV takes a cute idea—and a script that does have some good lines—and leeches the wit out of it.”

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Ernest Hemingway’s Guide to Life, In 20 Quotes
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Central Press/Getty Images

Though he made his living as a writer, Ernest Hemingway was just as famous for his lust for adventure. Whether he was running with the bulls in Pamplona, fishing for marlin in Bimini, throwing back rum cocktails in Havana, or hanging out with his six-toed cats in Key West, the Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning author never did anything halfway. And he used his adventures as fodder for the unparalleled collection of novels, short stories, and nonfiction books he left behind, The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, Death in the Afternoon, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and The Old Man and the Sea among them.

On what would be his 119th birthday—he was born in Oak Park, Illinois on July 21, 1899—here are 20 memorable quotes that offer a keen perspective into Hemingway’s way of life.

ON THE IMPORTANCE OF LISTENING

"I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen."

ON TRUST

"The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them."

ON DECIDING WHAT TO WRITE ABOUT

"I never had to choose a subject—my subject rather chose me."

ON TRAVEL

"Never go on trips with anyone you do not love."


Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston. [1], Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

ON THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN INTELLIGENCE AND HAPPINESS

"Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know."

ON TRUTH

"There's no one thing that is true. They're all true."

ON THE DOWNSIDE OF PEOPLE

"The only thing that could spoil a day was people. People were always the limiters of happiness, except for the very few that were as good as spring itself."

ON SUFFERING FOR YOUR ART

"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."

ON TAKING ACTION

"Never mistake motion for action."

ON GETTING WORDS OUT

"I wake up in the morning and my mind starts making sentences, and I have to get rid of them fast—talk them or write them down."


Photograph by Mary Hemingway, in the Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston., Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

ON THE BENEFITS OF SLEEP

"I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I'm awake, you know?"

ON FINDING STRENGTH 

"The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places."

ON THE TRUE NATURE OF WICKEDNESS

"All things truly wicked start from innocence."

ON WRITING WHAT YOU KNOW

"If a writer knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one ninth of it being above water."

ON THE DEFINITION OF COURAGE

"Courage is grace under pressure."

ON THE PAINFULNESS OF BEING FUNNY

"A man's got to take a lot of punishment to write a really funny book."


By Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston. - JFK Library, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

ON KEEPING PROMISES

"Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut."

ON GOOD VS. EVIL

"About morals, I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after."

ON REACHING FOR THE UNATTAINABLE

"For a true writer, each book should be a new beginning where he tries again for something that is beyond attainment. He should always try for something that has never been done or that others have tried and failed. Then sometimes, with great luck, he will succeed."

ON HAPPY ENDINGS

"There is no lonelier man in death, except the suicide, than that man who has lived many years with a good wife and then outlived her. If two people love each other there can be no happy end to it."

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