Film Review: ‘Snatched’ Will Cause Embarrassing Laughter

There’s always an internal debate to be had with a comedy like “Snatched.” On the one hand, if a film seeks to make you laugh and actually makes you laugh, it’s successful. On the other hand, however, what if you’re often laughing in spite of your better judgement? With “Snatched,” both occur in equal measure. It’s an adventure comedy that ever so slightly does enough right to warrant a recommendation. Those expecting anything close to “Trainwreck” will be disappointed. This is much closer to a lesser take on a Paul Feig outing like “The Heat” than anything else.

The other factor, of course, is Amy Schumer. To some, she’s one of the funniest human beings on the planet. To others, her schtick is beginning to wear thin. Those in the former camp will find “Snatched” to be a solid enough vehicle for her comedic stylings.

Emily Middleton (Schumer) is about to have a bad day. In the span of hours, she loses her retail job, gets dumped by her boyfriend Michael (Randall Park) for not having any ambition, and realizes she now has no one to come with her on a non-refundable exotic vacation to Ecuador. Making matters worse, her buttoned-up mother Linda (Goldie Hawn) is upset that they never see each other. At this low point, Emily heads home. Linda lives an ultra conservative and cat-filled life, really only with her shut-in son Jeffrey (Ike Barinholtz) for company. This spurs a suddenly determined Emily to bring her mother along to South America.

Linda has no interest in this trip, but eventually relents and soon Emily and her are on vacation. Emily wants to party and forget her problems, while Linda is content to read a good book. Unsatisfied with just meeting oddballs like Ruth (Wanda Sykes) and Barb (Joan Cusack), Emily ventures out and catches the eye of James (Tom Bateman). Of course, being out and about in this country, away from the resort, is dangerous. No sooner does she convince her mother to go on an adventure than the two Americans are abducted. Luckily, they bumble their way out of their kidnappers’ grasp. Whether it’s stumbling upon self-described adventurer Roger Simmons (Christopher Meloni) or Emily repeatedly accidentally killing hostage takers, this trip is one they won’t forget.

As much as it’s delightful to see Goldie Hawn on the big screen again, “Snatched” is purely a vehicle for Amy Schumer. Hawn is solid, but aside from some solid deadpan deliveries, she honestly doesn’t have a whole lot to do. Schumer does what she’s done for years on “Inside Amy Schumer” for the most part. She’s not a believable action heroine, but as a comedian, she’s undeniably funny. Their banter at times is really quite amusing. Moments just focusing on them are some of the strongest in the entire film. The subtext of their mother-daughter bonding may be less than perfectly crafted, but the two of them establish a fun relationship by the end.

Supporting Schumer here, we have the aforementioned likes of Barinholtz, Bateman, Cusack, Park and Sykes, none of whom leave an impression. Meloni, on the other hand, steals the scenes he’s in. Had he been the third lead, the film might have been even better. Also on hand are Kim Caramele, Óscar Jaenada, Bashir Salahuddin and more.

Director Jonathan Levine has slowly become a reliable studio filmmaker. After promising independent features like “The Wackness” to start his career, he consistently finds himself on the cusp of making a superhero movie. Here, he shows an acceptable feel for comedic action. Frankly, he’s at his best when he just lets Schumer do her thing. In that way, he’s a very actor-friendly director. Mostly, he just gets out of the way when that’s required of him.

When the script, credited to Katie Dippold, is fun, it’s hard not to laugh. When it’s going for sentiment or action, things are on shakier ground. Dippold has done this before, crafting the aforementioned “The Heat” for Feig (a producer here), as well as the “Ghostbusters” reboot. This isn’t a memorable script, but it knows where to go for Schumer and her type of humor to succeed. It works, but there are certainly blemishes along the way. There isn’t a single moment you won’t see coming.

Above all else, “Snatched” is funny. Is it hilarious? No. It’s just funny enough to recommend, with an added bonus of it probably working better for Schumer fans. If you never find her funny, nothing here will change that. If you always find her funny, there’s more than enough here to entice you. It’s a nice sight to see Hawn back in the comedy game, but Schumer will dictate your enjoyment level of “Snatched.”

“Snatched” is distributed by 20th Century Fox and opens in theaters on May 12.

GRADE: (★★★)


What do you think?

Film Lover

Written by Joey Magidson

When he’s not obsessing over new Oscar predictions on a weekly basis, Joey is seeing between 300 and 350 movies a year. He views the best in order to properly analyze the awards race/season each year, but he also watches the worst for reasons he mostly sums up as "so you all don't have to". In his spare time, you can usually find him complaining about the Jets or the Mets. Still, he lives and dies by film. Joey's a voting member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.


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