Starring: Amy Schumer, Goldie Hawn, Joan Cusack
Director: Jonathan Levine
Running Time: 90 mins
Synopsis: Dumped by her boyfriend just days before a (non-refundable) holiday for two in Ecuador, Emily (Schumer) is left with no choice but to take her smothering mother Linda (Hawn). Attempting to enjoy it despite Linda’s incessant fear of literally everything, Emily meets a handsome local. Unfortunately said local has earmarked the two of them for a kidnapping and ransom plot.
I’m going to say something here that may shock some of you. I do not understand the huge love for Amy Schumer. She is no doubt a solid comedy performer, with a knack for timing and delivery, but her crassly upfront sexuality and sheer crassness can be wearisome. Trainwreck was certainly an entertaining and honest semi-autobiographical film, but her meteoric rise to become a comedy powerhouse not to mention BFFs with Jennifer Lawrence baffles me. This stature would certainly explain how she could lure Goldie Hawn back into cinemas after more than 10 years in cinematic rest mode, as it most definitely couldn’t have been the script.
Emily is Schumer as we’ve come to expect her; loud, obnoxious and “just so current” with her instagramming and facebooking. After her boyfriend dumps her, in a hilariously cruel opening skit, she faces the challenge of finding someone to accompany her to Ecuador, foolishly going for a non-refundable vacation. It certainly shouldn’t be her mother. A super hypochondriac with a knack for calling her daughter at all hours of the day just to make sure she isn’t dead! It is great to see Hawn on screen again, seemingly ageless and still effortlessly charming, but even she struggles to sell such painfully thin material. Her deliberation over whether to go with her daughter to South America is so immediate that it robs her character of even a modicum of depth. It goes along the lines of: Emily-“will you go with me to Ecuador?” Linda-“nah it won’t be safe” Emily-“ah go on” Linda-“OK.” Rich stuff indeed.
Upon landing in Ecuador it doesn’t take long for Emily to regret her decision, with her mother refusing to leave the confines of the safe hotel or even remotely consider cutting loose. A hotel that contains the usual comedy movie assortment of oddballs, key of which is the odd pairing of Joan Cusack and Wanda Sykes as two friends of decidedly militaristic attitudes. Comedically falling flat and seemingly only there to factor into the action antics in the last act, with Cusack being an especially strange choice to play a ninja like warrior who has removed her own tongue (!!) Running into a hunky male at the bar gives Schumer a chance to do a token skit of getting hammered, horny and prat-falling. At some point the plot does kick in, when mother and daughter are kidnapped setting off the expected hijinks.
Sadly screenwriter Kate Dippold (The Heat) cannot seem to muster up the required craziness these sort of journeys should inspire. Barring an off-putting distinctly out of place scene involving a nasty tapeworm, there is little here that raises the blood or the funny bone. Of course the focus is the central mother-daughter relationship and the film goes for the usual moments of arguments, separation and reconciliation. These parts are solid thanks to the affectionate chemistry the two leads have with each other but they all land with such familiarity it becomes a bit of a snoozefest. This is especially upsetting when you consider how good director Jonathan Levine was at balancing relationship drama with incisive comedy in cancer-com 50/50. Snatched just feels tired, with little directorial or narrative ambition.
Some saving graces do exist with the supporting characters they encounter. Christopher Meloni shows up as a wannabe explorer, dressed like Indiana Jones and pretending to be one with the local population. It’s all a cover though, one he reveals in an oddly poignant scene before being dispatched in a playful if expected comedy beat. It is a brief role but his tongue in cheek delivery and macho posturing are a highpoint. A subplot concerning Emily’s agoraphobic brother is also a welcome slice of humour as he desperately tries to get the increasingly uncaring US government to intervene (this film seems to want to make a pointed statement on the inadequacies of bureaucracy but never truly sells it). Played by Ike Barinholtz (Bad Neighbours) with an energy and passion that is sadly missing from the rest of the film.
It is not nearly enough to allow this film to lodge in the memory (in fact this review has been incredibly tough to write as I struggled to remember any of it) and cements my belief that Amy Schumer is not the comedic messiah so many bestow her to be. Granted not every great comedian succeeds every time but the truly great ones can make even the weakest of material at least entertain. Snatched does not do this, and I hope this does not assuage Goldie Hawn from continuing her screen comeback. She is a lovable presence who deserves so much better. Seeing as Schumer deliberately sought this out to lure Hawn back out, it makes me wonder if Schumer truly cares as no one would do this to one of their idols.
Verdict: Snatched has glimpses of comedic life but is ultimately a flat, tiredly executed holiday-com. It is certainly good to see Goldie Hawn back on screens but she deserves so much better.