Editor’s Notes: Snatched is out on its respective home video release August 8th.
As Snatched (20th Century-Fox Home Entertainment) opens, Emily Middleton (Amy Schumer) has just lost her job and is being dumped by her rock musician boyfriend. They had been planning a trip to Ecuador and now she’s stuck with an extra, non-refundable ticket. She calls all her friends but her invitations to join her on the trip are met with excuses, some blatantly rude.
On a visit to her divorced mom, Linda (Goldie Hawn), it’s clear that their relationship isn’t the best. Linda lives with her adult, agoraphobic son Jeffrey (Ike Barinholtz) and a bunch of cats. Mother and daughter love each other but have a penchant for getting under each other’s skin. They bicker a lot, Linda makes judgmental comments about Emily’s lifestyle, and Emily criticizes Linda for pigeonholing her as a lazy failure. But, desperate for a traveling companion and thinking that a trip to South America could be an adventure for both of them, Emily asks Linda to join her. Initially leery, Linda ultimately agrees.
Shortly after setting foot in Ecuador, a Brit by the name of James (Tom Bateman) catches Emily’s eye and begins to flirt. They hit it off, and he invites both Emily and her mother to join him for an adventure the next day. Linda reluctantly tags along. Things go well until masked men surround their car and abduct the women, beginning a series of comic mishaps and dangerous encounters that put them both in great danger.
The teaming of Schumer and Hawn is what probably gave this project a green light. Hawn hasn’t made a feature film since 2002’s The Banger Sisters and her flair for comedy has been demonstrated many times over, starting with her appearances in the ensemble cast of TV’s Laugh-In. But screen writer Katie Dippold (Ghostbusters) has given Ms. Hawn very little to do in terms of eliciting laughs. Most of the gags are focused on Schumer. This would be fine since she’s the star, but when you have a talent as big as Goldie Hawn and she hasn’t been seen on the big screen for 15 years, she should be more than a straight man to Schumer’s potty-mouth comments and physical gags. Hawn’s star power is significant, and the viewer keeps waiting for scenes worthy of her, but they never materialize.
Compared with Trainwreck, a terrific screen debut for Schumer, Snatched is a lame attempt to duplicate the previous film’s spirit. There are structural problems as well. Several characters are introduced who are intended to shoulder some of the responsibility for getting laughs. Wanda Sykes and Joan Cusack play a couple of tourists who turn up. They appear very knowledgeable about the dangers lurking in the jungles and do not hesitate to advise the new arrivals. There’s also an Indiana Jones-type adventurer (Christopher Meloni) who, at one point, guides Emily and Linda through the jungle as they are being pursued by bad guys. These characters are mildly amusing, but are dispatched unceremoniously. It’s as if Dippold wrote herself into a corner and figured no one would notice. We notice.
Director Jonathan Levine has crafted an uneven film, long on illogic, short on laughs. There are some funny moments, but not as many as you would hope for considering the stars. Rated R, Snatched features Amy Schumer in the show biz persona that has endeared her to audiences — a young woman who defies all common ideas of propriety to live an unfiltered, hedonistic life. Rather than obnoxious, she tends to be charmingly innocent, and that’s her saving grace. That comic persona stays intact but the tepid script doesn’t permit her to shine.
Bonus materials on the widescreen, 2-disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack include 10 deleted scenes, 5 extended and alternate scenes, gag reel, and director commentary by Jonathan Levine. A digital HD copy is enclosed.