Snatched: A Major Step Back for Amy Schumer

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snatched
Editor’s Note: Snatched opens in wide theatrical release today, May 12, 2017.

Don’t expect cultural sensitivity or the equivalent thereof from Snatched, Amy Schumer’s disappointing follow-up to Trainwreck, a critical and box-office hit just two years ago. Centered on two American women kidnapped and held for ransom in Colombia, Snatched does little to counter recurring concerns about Schumer’s limited point-of-view outside of the middle- or upper-class (white) feminism central to Schumer’s semi-meteoric rise from a little-known stand-up comedian to TV and movie star. Scripted by Kate Dippold (the Ghostbusters remake) and directed by Jonathan Levine (The Night Before, Warm Bodies, 50/50, The Wackness), Snatched also suffers from an overabundance of lowest-common-denominator humor (mostly aimed at Schumer’s non-conventional looks, bodily emissions) and a dearth of the smart, self-aware, satirical humor of Schumer’s earlier TV work and the first two-thirds of Trainwreck. In short, Snatched is a major step back for Schumer, a setback for a performer whose debut promised much more than another disposable, low-grade buddy comedy (albeit a comedy where the “buddies” are mother and daughter).

TV ads and the trailers also ruin too many of Snatched’s best gags. Given that they’re few and far between, maybe that’s for the best box-office wise.

snatchedWhen we first meet Schumer’s character, Kate Middleton, a downwardly mobile thirty-something somehow making ends meet working sales at a department store, she’s over-sharing details of her not particularly interesting life with a random customer, though she’s looking forward to a South American vacation with her significant other. In short order, though, she’s lost her job due to the aforementioned over-sharing and her rock-stat boyfriend, Michael (Randall Park), dumps her before he goes on the road with his band. Michael doesn’t want to be tied down in a monogamous relationship when his band’s success means free, buffet-style groupie sex. Kate does what any thirty-something woman would do in her case: She heads for the overprotective, smothering embrace of her 70-year-old mom, Linda (Goldie Hawn). Retired and practically a recluse, a lifestyle orientation she shares with her adult son, Jeffrey (Ike Barinholtz), Linda has little interest in seeing the world, let alone being a part of it.

Snatched is a major step back for Amy Schumer, a performer whose debut promised much more than another disposable, low-grade buddy comedy.

Of course, all that changes when Kate convinces Linda to put the “fun” in “non-refundable” (as in Kate’s tickets to Ecuador) and take a trip for the first time in years. Linda’s fearfulness and hesitation contrast markedly with Kate’s spirit for adventure, though Linda’s caution turns out to be on the right side of the divide when swarthy, sweaty men kidnap them on the border between Ecuador and Colombia. Naturally enough, Emily and Linda’s kidnappers call Jeffrey and ask for a $100K ransom. Jeffrey, in turn, contacts the U.S. State department for help. They don’t, help that is. Instead, Jeffrey runs afoul of a low-level bureaucrat, Morgan Russell (Bashir Salahuddin), who doesn’t take kindly to a taxpayer pleading for help or showing up unannounced at his corner office. Without the possibility of rescue, Emily and Linda do it for themselves: They escape into the Colombian jungle after brutally smashing one of the kidnappers in the head with a shovel. He doesn’t bounce back.

At its core, Snatched tries to be a warm-hearted buddy comedy about a mother and daughter reconnecting through adversity, but it rarely succeeds in making us care one way or another about their individual or collective fates except superficially (because they’re the central characters and they’re played by Schumer and Hawn). Side characters played by Wanda Sykes and Joan Cusack, Ruth and Barb respectively, step in periodically to inject doses of much-needed levity to the proceedings, but they’re in Snatched for all of 5-10 minutes of screen time. Christopher “I’m the Real MVP” Meloni receives the equivalent of an extended cameo as an expedition guide who’s far less than he appears. Unfortunately, TV ads give away his comical fate. Those same ads and the trailers also ruin too many of Snatched’s best gags. Given that they’re few and far between, maybe that’s for the best box-office wise. It’s not for the best, though, for moviegoers who’ll leave their local multiplex as the credits roll on Snatched feeling cheated by all of the gags spoiled for them by an overzealous or desperate ad campaign.

5.0 MEDIOCRE

Snatched is a major step back for Amy Schumer, a performer whose debut promised much more than another disposable, low-grade buddy comedy.

  • 5.0
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About Author

Mel Valentin hails from the great state of New Jersey. After attending New York University as an undergrad (politics and economics double major, religious studies minor) and grad school (law), he relocated from the East Coast to San Francisco, California, where he's been ever since. Since Mel began writing about film nine years ago, he's written more than 1,600 reviews and articles. He's a member of the San Francisco Film Critics Circle and the Online Film Critics Society.