Directed by: Jonathan Levine
Premise: A free spirited young woman (Amy Schumer) and her cautious mother (Goldie Hawn) vacation in Ecuador. Their trip goes sideways when they are kidnapped by extortionists. The mother and daughter escape with their captors in pursuit.
What Works: Snatched sees the return of actress Goldie Hawn to the silver screen after a fifteen year absence. It’s good to see her in a movie again and Hawn still has the charisma and comic timing that made her a star in the 1970s and 80s. She’s well paired with Amy Schumer as mother and daughter and it’s too bad these performers don’t have better material to work with. The cast of Snatched also includes Ike Barinholtz as the needy son of Hawn’s character and Barinholtz has virtually all of the best moments in this film.
What Doesn’t: Snatched is only ever intermittently funny. The entire movie has only a handful of laughs and they are mostly locked up in the early domestic sequences. A lot of the jokes are lame or predictable and the film lacks the audacity and wit that Amy Schumer can do so well. Snatched suffers from an incoherent tone. It does not seem as though the filmmakers ever settled on what kind of movie they were trying to make. Some sequences are brutally violent and others play with the daftness of a television sitcom. Instead of creating a comic juxtaposition, the impact is unsettling. The violence short-circuits the humor and the audience never settles into the rhythms of the storytelling. The tonal problems of Snatched are a surprise given that this film was directed by Jonathan Levine who had previously helmed movies like 50/50 and Warm Bodies, which had successfully mixed violent or dark subject matter with comedy. However, the failure of Snatched is less surprising considering that it was written by Katie Dippold. Snatched exacerbates the same flaws of other movies she is credited with writing, namely 2013’s The Heat and 2016’s Ghostbusters. This movie fails at basic storytelling even while it works within familiar and cliché frameworks. Snatched sets up an odd couple premise; the mother and daughter have diametrically opposed values. As the daughter, Amy Schumer’s character is fun loving to the point of recklessness while the mother, played by Goldie Hawn, is so cautious that she’s missing out on life. In the typical odd couple scenario, each person would learn to appreciate the qualities of the other while acknowledging and tampering down their own eccentricities. Snatched doesn’t do that. It would be great if the filmmakers found a way to mix up an old formula but they don’t do that either. The mother and daughter just bicker without ever developing any self-awareness or advancing their relationship. While Hawn does a competent job with the material, Amy Schumer is particularly bad in this film. She’s better when she’s working from her own material (she is credited as the writer on Trainwreck) and it’s obvious when she’s improvising since those moments are so much funnier than the rest of the movie. Her role in Snatched requires an actress with greater skill and nuance than Schumer is capable of. Snatched has a lot of supporting players that are intended to add color to the movie but most of them are wasted, especially a pair of vacationing friends played by Wanda Sykes and Joan Cusack. There’s little sense of escalation in the story. The plot is very episodic. One event does not lead logically to the next. Snatched is intended to be a mix of comedy and action but none of the set pieces are done especially well. Director Jonathan Levine doesn’t demonstrate a capacity for cinematic showmanship that action requires and the film fails to make the action funny or exciting the way it was in better films like Spy and Deadpool.
Bottom Line: Snatched is a disappointment that is beneath the talents of everyone involved. It is a lethargic and scattershot attempt to make an action comedy that it is neither funny nor exciting.
Episode: #648 (May 21, 2017)