It’s been two years since Amy Schumer made her big screen debut in the very funny Trainwreck and way too long — 15 years! — since Goldie Hawn made a movie (The Banger Sisters). While it is great to see Hawn back on the big screen in a comedy, Snatched may not have been the best vehicle for her return.
The story finds Emily Middleton (Schumer) losing her job and boyfriend just before she’s about to head off on an adventure to Ecuador. Without the boyfriend, she needs to find someone else to join her on the non-refundable excursion. Emily is so insufferable that none of her “friends” will go so she decides it’s time to get her mother Linda (Hawn) out of her house to enjoy life for once. Needless to say, Linda is frightened by anything outside of her comfort zone, and in this case she is proven right as the two are kidnapped and held for ransom. Of course they manage to escape and are chased through the jungle with comedy and mayhem ensuing.
Snatched had a lot of potential in teaming Schumer and Hawn, but it really blows it in the comedy department. First, the premise — kidnapping — is not really a ripe subject for laughs, especially when one of the leads is so annoying that you really can’t root for her to escape. Amy Schumer has made a career out of her boozy, promiscuous persona, but after a TV series and one movie she’s already pigeonholed herself into this being the only thing she can do. Emily is just an awful person all around, and even though she does get some redemption later in the film by not making herself the center of everything, you really don’t care by that point.
Hawn makes the most of her cautious mother role even though she reduced to being more the “straight man” to Schumer but you can still see the glimmer of the glorious Goldie of the past every now and then. I hope that she had a good enough experience making the movie that she won’t disappear again for another fifteen years.
The supporting cast is a mixed bag. Wanda Sykes does Wanda Sykes as Ruth, a “security expert” who befriends Emily and Linda at the resort. She gets most of the movie’s funniest lines even though she’s only on screen for a short time. The wonderful Joan Cusak is Barb, Ruth’s partner and a former Black Ops operative in a role that has no dialog. Cusack uses gestures and facial expressions to get her points across and earns some huge laughs with a couple of bits of physical comedy. Chris Meloni shows up for what amounts to a brief cameo as a jungle adventurer, but the worst of the co-stars is Ike Barinholtz as Emily’s brother Jeffrey, some kind of man-child who is stuck in the same house with Linda. His one supposedly funny bit is how he says “mamah” all the time instead of “mom” and it’s just a bizarre choice that grates after a while.
The script could have made Emily’s and Linda’s escape much more slapsticky than it is. Here, an accidental death and two accidental/self-defense murders are what constitutes comedy. It’s a bit off-putting when you’re expected to laugh at someone getting shot in the throat with a harpoon. There’s also a completely baffling, nonsensical moment where Emily is feeling ill that suddenly takes the movie into complete fantasy territory. Also off-putting is Schumer’s schtick. She can be exceptionally funny but when she falls back on her whiny baby voice for a laugh, it makes my skin crawl. It’s like nails on a chalkboard.
Depite my overall disappointment with the movie, it’s not all bad either. It’s just not all good. If nothing else, it put Goldie Hawn back on the big screen. Here’s an idea — how about a comedy with Hawn, Cusack and Sykes in the leads? Hollywood always says they can’t do movies with actors of a certain age because the audiences are too young, and then are surprised when those movies are hits (like Hawn, Bette Midler and Diane Keaton in The First Wives Club, and Hawn and Meryl Streep in Death Becomes Her). It’s worth a try because by catering to a younger audience with raunchy humor and funny deaths just doesn’t cut it.
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