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Snatched (2017)

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Score: 5/10

Genre: Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 30 min.

Release Date: May 12th, 2017 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Jonathan Levine Actors: Amy Schumer, Goldie Hawn, Ike Barinholtz, Wanda Sykes, Joan Cusack, Tom Bateman, Christopher Meloni, Bashir Salahuddin, Oscar Jaenada

A

my Schumer’s brand of humor is typically lowest-common-denominator stuff. This is never more apparent than in the choice of the title for her latest feature-length project, “Snatched.” And, although the script was written by Katie Dippold (“Parks and Recreation,” “The Heat,” “Ghostbusters” [2016]), and directed by Jonathan Levine (“Warm Bodies,” “The Night Before”), it’s difficult to imagine that most of this venture wasn’t crafted around the leading lady and her specific area of comedy. Here, Goldie Hawn shares the screen capably, but her own comedic stylings are far less pointed or adapted.

And yet, the crudity doesn’t sink – with uncomfortable regularity – to that anticipated level of easily exploited immaturity. There’s something wholly relatable, charming, and even laugh-out-loud funny about initial sequences of relationship drama and declining employability. The typical mother/daughter bonding routine is also nicely handled by two actresses who easily fall into their roles. The film may rely too heavily on slapstick or drunken clumsiness at times, but the tasteless sexual content that one might expect from Schumer is actually rather subdued. It’s by no means a family film, but it’s certainly more appropriate and balanced as a fantastical, silly adventure than as a vulgarity-laden sex comedy.

New Yorker Emily Middleton (Amy Schumer) is all set to sip mai tais (and smoke joints) by the beach with her boyfriend Michael (Randall Park) in a getaway to scenic Ecuador. But when he spontaneously dumps her (forcing her to attempt to call it quits with him instead, mid-break-up), she’s left to raffle off the vacation to her assortment of online friends. Sadly, no one wants to spend that kind of time with her, leaving Emily to offer the epic pilgrimage to her obsessive-compulsive, critical, judgmental, crazy cat-lady mother, Linda (Goldie Hawn). “I can’t deal with you evaluating my life right now!” Still, despite firmly believing that any decent trip requires two years of prior planning, Linda is persuaded to take the ticket – mostly because it’s non-refundable.

“The world’s a scary place.” Content with reading in the hotel room or reclining poolside, Linda gets in the way of Emily’s predisposition toward excitement and flirting with men. So when the notably handsome James (Tom Bateman) approaches Emily for a night of drinks and partying – and then a morning drive through jungles filled with waterfalls and rainbows – she gladly gets swept up in the exotic romance. But the daydream turns into a nightmare when the two unsuspecting women are kidnapped during the paradisiacal cruise and held for a $100,000 ransom by Colombian gangsters.

“Oh my god! They took my phone!” Unfortunately, in these kinds of films, the star is the butt of jokes as opposed to a confident heroine; Emily is frequently the target of dogged abuse rather than romantic affections. But, what could have been a markedly harrowing ordeal is instead injected with enough playfulness to largely gloss over the specifically unfunny elements of a braining with a shovel, blood on the walls of a grimy cell, or other such brief bits of violence.

This is additionally alleviated by the fact that, in the world of “Snatched,” everyone is a caricature; from the mentally deficient brother (Ike Barinholtz) to the Rambo-esque guide (Christopher Meloni) to the U.S. State Department desk guy (Bashir Salahuddin) – who is curiously tasked with answering phones, monitoring satellite imagery of Colombian criminals, and even conducting raids on South American soil. And, most especially, the villain is a broadly drawn stereotype, who remains incredibly restrained as he behaves with unconvincing severity. Even goofy sidekicks like fellow vacationers Ruth (Wanda Sykes) and Barb (Joan Cusack) aren’t allowed to conduct themselves with any realism during the moments written specifically for sincere actions.

With the merriment of “Romancing the Stone,” but with the dourness of “Collateral Damage,” the ending becomes a stretch of deteriorating sensibilities and outrageous fantasy (or ludicrously farfetched adventurism). This is, of course, further dotted by overly sentimental sequences of bonding – and the suggestion that life should be lived in the moment and not for social media popularity. But Schumer and Hawn are entirely watchable together, creating a duo that is more entertaining than offensive – even if their humorous, foolish, 90-minute plight is endurable only once at best.

– Mike Massie

 



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