A film review by Craig J. Koban May 27, 2017


2017, R, 91 mins.


Amy Schumer as Emily Middleton  /  Goldie Hawn as Linda Middleton  /  Tom Bateman as James  /  Christopher Meloni as Roger Simmons  /  Wanda Sykes as Ruth  /  Ike Barinholtz as Jeffrey Middleton  /  Óscar Jaenada as Morgado  /  Randall Park as Michael  /  Joan Cusack as Barb

Directed by Jonathan Levine  Written by Katie Dippold

For all intents and purposes, the new odd couple road comedy SNATCHED should have been a proverbial home run.  

It stars Amy Schumer, who made a very auspicious cinematic debut starring in and writing Judd Apatow's TRAINWRECK.  Her co-star is Hollywood legend Goldie Hawn, coming out of a long retirement since last appearing in 2002's THE BANGER SISTERS.  And SNATCHED's director is Jonathan Levine, whom previously helmed a couple terribly underrated comedies in 50/50 and WARM BODIES.   

The creative pieces are definitely in place for a spirited comedy of inspired and wacky hijinks, which involves a mother and daughter tandem venturing on a South American vacation, during which time they're ruthlessly kidnapped by Ecuadorian thugs (so, yeah, the feel-good movie of the year).  There are some well earned laughs sprinkled throughout SNATCHED, not to mention that it is a treat to see 71-year-old Hawn playing deadpan straightwoman to Schumer's rampant oafishness and earning most of the film's heartiest chuckles.  The main issue with SNATCHED is that the laughs are often scattershot and very few and far between, not to mention an overall script that seems to meander around aimlessly as it careens towards a climax.  That, and Schumer's lead character is so toxically dislikeable within a few minutes into the film that having any type of rooting interest in her and her plight is very, very difficult.   



Schumer plays Emily, a young and adrift woman of almost repellent selfishness and cluelessness.  She's so wrapped up within a tight bubble of egotistical importance that she has no ability to accept that her rock band devoted boyfriend (played in one of the film's many hilarious cameos by Randall Park) is dumping her to more fully embrace to hard musician lifestyle of playing gigs and chasing tale.  She was planning a getaway trip to Ecuador with him, and now stuck with tickets, no job, and virtually no money left to her name, she decides that her only option is to invite her eccentric mother, Linda (Hawn), to tag along.  Granted, her mommy was not her first choice, seeing as everyone else she invited turned her down, mostly because they collectively hate her guts. 

Of course, Linda wants to have nothing to do with her daughter's trip, seeing as she would much rather stay at home to look after her two cats and, most importantly, her chronically agoraphobic son Jeffrey (a creepily amusing Ike Barinholtz).  Begrudgingly, she agrees to Emily's offer and the two make the pilgrimage to Ecuador.  Emily decides to take in some of the local nightlife to get away from her overprotective mother, during which time she hooks up with the hunky James (Tom Bateman), a man so limitlessly photogenic that Emily initially has difficulty accepting his advances.  Unfortunately, this too-good-to-be-true scenario turns out to be just that, as one day turns dark for both Emily and her mother as they are led into an abduction by James, leaving them imprisoned in the middle of the jungle and forcing the pair to bond in ways they never have to plot an escape. 

I like Amy Schumer.  I thought she gave a performance of great nuance and authenticity in TRAINWRECK playing a fairly loathsome woman that you grew to care about.  The large dilemma with SNATCHED is that Schumer is not so much playing a fully fleshed out and flawed character as she is a cartoonish caricature, and one that's so vapidly self-involved that the film never really invites you in to feel any semblance of sympathy or understanding for her.  Movies featuring unrelenting slobs can be funny, but Emily doesn't have much of a heart of gold that is required to relate to these types of characters.  She's pitifully vulgar.  In many ways, this ironically assists with Hawn's performance as the mother, who effectively modulates and dials down her comedic performance for better sustained effect.  Hawn is most assuredly given scenes that play up to her bubbly and idiosyncratic charm, but her fairly restrained work here makes for an effective foil to Schumer's distracting buffoonery.  I will give both credit for having credible chemistry as a mother/daughter tandem and the two actresses are willing to, well, go places her that other actresses wouldn't. 

Somewhat oddly, I found myself gravitating more towards this film's wonderfully droll side characters, some of which steal a lion's share of the scenes away from their more well known lead performers.  Aside from Randall Park's aforementioned side-splitting turn as Emily's boyfriend, I also enjoyed the bizarre and disturbing energy that Barinholtz brings to his somewhat deranged Jeffrey, and some of SNATCHED's best scenes involve his frequent failed phone conversations with a U.S. State Department official (Bashir Salahuddin) and his desperate measures to get this hysterically uncaring government official to do something to find his mother and sister.  Joan Cusack shows up later in the film alongside Wanda Sykes, the former playing a mute ex-assassin that just happens to be in Ecuador and just happens to be willing to help Emily and her mom get serious comeuppance on their kidnappers.  The single funniest appearance in SNATCHED is owned by Christopher Meloni as a grizzled Indiana Jones-like jungle adventurer who may or may not be who he claims to be. 

It's telling, though, when the supporting players score the biggest comedic bullseyes here, not to mention that for every good scene and sight gag that riotously works there are half a dozen others that don't.  Take, for instance, a would-be amusing scene involving Emily having a disgustingly long tapeworm taking out of her via her throat and mouth (don't ask how it got there) that's so nauseatingly unfunny that it feels like it came from a whole other film altogether.  The undisciplined scripting (from Katie Dippold, who recently penned the wrongheaded GHOSTBUSTERS reboot) doesn't really end there, as Emily and Linda's misadventures jump from one haphazzardly engineered vignette to the next.  For the most part, SNATCHED feels like a series of uncoordinated SNL-inspired sketches than it does a cohesive feature film comedy. 

The biggest disappointment here is arguably director Jonathon Levine, who managed to previously make surprisingly dignified and poignant comedies that dealt with cancer and also injected some much needed novelty into a very overdone zombie genre with his last few respective films.  SNATCHED feels like a giant qualitative step backwards not only for him, but for Schumer herself, who demonstrated depth and range as both a writer and actress in TRAINWRECK.  It's fitting that Emily frequently refers to her Ecuador vacation as "unrefundable" in SNATCHED, because I'm reasonably sure that many patrons that walk out of the film will probably wish they could get their money back after screening it.   


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