Directed by Jonathan Levine. Starring Amy Schumer, Goldie Hawn, Ike Barinholtz, Tom Bateman, Bashir Salahuddin, Óscar Jaenada, Wanda Sykes, Joan Cusack, Christopher Meloni, Randall Park. (2017, R, 90 min.)
REVIEWED By Steve Davis, Fri., May 12, 2017
The mother and daughter in the vacation-gone-wrong comedy Snatched – a title chosen, no doubt, for its snickering double meaning – get down and dirty trudging through the jungles of South America, covered in muck from head to toe as they flee would-be kidnappers and reboot their filial bond along the way. Refreshingly, this is no vanity project for either Schumer as the directionless Emily, or Hawn as her uptight divorced mom Linda. Neither of them is afraid to roll around in the mud a bit, literally or figuratively. But the grit and the grime feel a bit too real when there’s little levity to offset the women’s precariously unfunny situation, which is punctuated by a couple of acts of manslaughter and an accidental death. (The three fatalities are played for fun, but the ha-ha shock effect wears thin.) Whenever the undisciplined script, credited to Katie Dippold, goes for some needed comic relief, the humor comes in the form of a cartoonish scene involving a dangling piece of red meat and a foot-long tapeworm, jarringly at odds with the rest of the movie, or extraneous side characters played by Sykes, Cusack, and Meloni, none of whom have any apparent purpose but to try (without luck) to get laughs when the action lags. What passes for snappy dialogue between the two leads instead goes limp. The movie feels out of whack, as if big chunks were excised to ensure its relatively short 90-minute running length. Clearly, Emily and Linda aren’t the only things that go missing in Snatched.
The pairing of Schumer and Hawn, both of whom have successfully parlayed variations on the dumb-blonde theme career-wise, should be something special, but it disappointingly falls short of any high-hope expectations. While the two actresses convincingly play blood kin for the most part, despite the cliched relationship of overprotective parent (a cat lady, of course) and self-involved offspring (a nonstop Instagrammer, predictably), the movie seldom charts a believable course to earn the emotional reunion between their characters in the end. One minute Linda lectures her daughter in the middle of a tropical rain forest about the painful sacrifices of maternal love; the next minute Emily demonstrates her newfound selflessness by assisting some indigenous women in filling water buckets. Scratch head. Repeat. Both of these actresses deserve better, given what they’re capable of. Hawn’s last (and underrated) screen performance 15 years ago as the aging party girl in The Banger Sisters arguably ranked as her best, while Schumer’s provocative television sketch comedy program continues to be as good as anything produced by Lily Tomlin, Dave Chappelle, and the like. Snatched fails to tap into the full potential of either of these funny ladies by shoehorning them into this unbecoming genre flick. It’s not worth paying the ransom for this one.