Snatched

snatched-rev Snatched  (2017)    20th Century Fox/Action-Comedy    RT: 90 minutes    Rated R (crude sexual content, brief nudity, language throughout)    Director: Jonathan Levine    Screenplay: Katie Dippold    Music: Theodore Shapiro and Chris Bacon    Cinematography: Florian Ballhaus    Release date: May 12, 2017 (US)    Cast: Amy Schumer, Goldie Hawn, Wanda Sykes, Joan Cusack, Ike Barinholtz, Christopher Meloni, Bashir Salahuddin, Tom Bateman, Oscar Jaenada, Arturo Castro, Pedro Haro, Randall Park.   

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 After a 15-year absence, Goldie Hawn (last seen in 2002’s The Banger Sisters) is back in Snatched, a fitfully amusing action-comedy directed by Jonathan Levine (The Night Before). She plays the worrisome mother of Amy Schumer’s character Emily, basically a version of the persona she played perfectly in 2015’s Trainwreck, one of the only great comedies of the past decade and a half (2012’s Ted is the other). Sad to say, Snatched doesn’t join those ranks. Despite the presence of two very funny ladies, it’s a scattershot affair that hits only slightly more than it misses. When it misses, it really misses, but when it hits, it’s a pretty solid hit.

snatched Emily is one of those vapid, irresponsible, self-centered types whose philosophy appears to be “I post selfies on Instagram, therefore I am.” Within the movie’s first five minutes, she loses her job and her boyfriend. The latter puts a real damper on her upcoming trip to Ecuador. None of her friends want to join her (apparently, none of them actually like her). She can’t get her money back because she bought non-refundable tickets. Having no other options, she invites her mother Linda (Hawn) to come with her. It takes a bit of persuading as Mom is fearful of just about everything. She’s the sort of woman whose life revolves around her cats. She hardly ever leaves the home she shares with her agoraphobic adult son Jeffrey (Barinholtz, The Mindy Project). After much pleading and cajoling, mother and daughter set forth for fun and adventure south of the border (WAY south!).

 The trouble begins when Emily is picked up at the hotel bar by James (Bateman, Da Vinci’s Demons), a handsome stranger who doesn’t think it’s totally pathetic for a grown woman to be vacationing with her mother. That’s a big red flag right there! He invites Emily on a day trip to parts of the country typically unseen by tourists. He tells her to bring Mom along (cue more pleading and cajoling). Linda knows from the start that something isn’t quite right about this whole scenario. It takes not being able to post her selfies for Emily to reach the same realization. At that point, two ski mask-wearing gentlemen crash into their car and kidnap the two women. The usual hijinks ensue when they escape and bungle their way through the jungle with their captors, led by Morgado (Jaenada, The Shallows), in hot pursuit.

 I went into Snatched (LOVE the double entendre title!) with mixed feelings. I like both leading ladies but the story sounded formulaic and stale. It’s common knowledge by now that if an American travels to a Latin American country in a movie, chances are he or she will be kidnapped by scuzzy criminal types. It’s one of those inevitabilities of the reel world. Levine and screenwriter Katie Dippold (The Heat) don’t do anything new or special with the premise. They don’t redefine the buddy comedy genre; they don’t even try to make it feel fresh. But Snatched doesn’t suck either. It definitely has its moments and not always involving Schumer and Hawn who work very well together. It has a strong supporting cast that includes comedian Wanda Sykes as a fellow tourist whose platonic life-partner Barb (Cusack, Working Girl) is a retired Special Forces op who cut out her own tongue just in case an enemy tries to force her to reveal top secret information. Naturally, this duo will be called into action at some point. Christopher Meloni (Law & Order: SVU) plays an Indiana Jones-type explorer who might or might not know what he’s talking about. After a decade of intensity playing Detective Stabler on SVU, it’s nice to see the actor’s lighter side. Randall Park (Trainwreck) cameos as the rocker boyfriend who dumps Emily in one of the movie’s funnier scenes.

 Snatched is crude and profane, it definitely earns its R rating, but doesn’t wallow in it like many recent so-called comedies. I like Schumer very much; she’s funny and clearly intelligent. Only an actress of great talent is capable of imbuing a shallow character like the one she plays in Trainwreck with such depth. She’s doesn’t do that with Emily so much; what you see is what you get. However, she once again proves that adult-childhood isn’t exclusively a male domain. Women can do everything that men can do including being a man-child. Hawn is also very good, probably better than the movie deserves. She elevates the material with her trademark silliness. At 71, she’s lost none of her zany appeal; she’s still willing and able to act silly. As much as I like her co-star, Hawn is the main reason to see Snatched. It’s great to see her back in action.

 I really didn’t expect to enjoy Snatched but I did. It’s not great by any stretch of the imagination but it’s better than it looks. It’s inconsistent but it mostly works. I laughed quite a few times. There’s a scene where a pair of doctors try to remove a tapeworm from Schumer. It’s weird, gross and comical all at the same time. The movie ventures into dark comedy territory a few times like the running gag about Emily’s predilection for accidentally killing members of the head kidnapper’s family. It also covers the doting, overbearing mom bit with scenes like the one where Linda applies sunblock to her daughter like it’s body paint. The makers can’t seem to decide on a single tone so they try a combination of them which results in a mixed bag. But like I said, there are many goodies in this particular bag. 

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