Review by Paul Preston
Snatched is Amy Schumer’s follow-up to her movie lead debut, Trainwreck. Snatched doesn’t quite reach the story sophistication of Schumer’s first film, but I can’t deny there are a ton of laughs.
Judd Apatow directed Trainwreck and not only is it full of Schumer’s bad-girl-behavior comedy, but there’s something being said. Apatow has a penchant for sentimentality and Schumer clearly wanted to comment on whether the overtly selfish single-life-addicted city girl is redeemable. Katie Dippold’s script for Snatched and Jonathan Levine’s direction don’t reach the same heights, but again, they find the funny, and often enough for me.
Schumer plays Emily Middleton, another from the template of shallow, troubled bachelorettes that populate her Comedy Central show. She’s introduced in a hilarious opening in a clothing store and soon she’s lost her job and boyfriend, with a nonrefundable trip to Ecuador waiting for her. She ends up taking her mother (Goldie Hawn) with her and soon, as the title suggests, they are kidnapped by Columbian gangsters. If you’re looking for a complex plot about high drama in South America, you should take in City of God or Missing, ‘cause this is as complicated as the plot gets. All Schumer and Hawn have to do now is get out of Ecuador and back home, and do it with jokes.
The gags range from personality missteps to physical shtick involving tapeworms, but the film is at its best when it’s doling out character interaction. Ike Barinholtz co-stars as Emily’s brother and he springs into action when he hears his sister and mom are being held hostage. But…he’s agoraphobic. His phone calls with The State Department are delightfully loony.
There’s also female empowerment galore in Snatched, so it acts as the perfect antidote to the macho bullshit of most summer movies. Rather than play the “in distress” card, these damsels fight to escape and help comes in the form of Wanda Sykes and a very funny Joan Cusack, a duo locked and ready for a kidnapping. By the time backwoods explorer Christopher Meloni appears, he embodies everything Dippold and Schumer (and producer Paul Feig) find wrong with the posturing male adventure doofus. His seriousness in the face of silliness is good stuff.
Snatched tries for poignancy between Hawn and Schumer. There is some redemption for their relationship, but it never goes beyond “Mommy, I was stupid”, where there could have been more pain, perhaps, over the lost years not spending enough time together or the real regret of mom falling away as the most important person in her daughter’s life. I think the jokes were often enough that those moments could’ve been delved into deeper and there would still be a quality balance to the script.
Schumer’s a legit powerhouse. If you love her, get out and see this, or it’ll be more King Arthur: Legend of the Sword for you.
Directed by: Jonathan Levine
Release Date: May 12, 2017
Run Time: 90 Minutes
Distributor: 20th Century Fox