Snatched (2017)

This is the closest they’ve been in years.

Following her much-praised starring debut in Judd Apatow’s Trainwreck (2015), Amy Schumer stumbles and bumbles on her second go-around as leading lady, the action-comedy Snatched struggling to live up to its screwball-silly, potential-filled damsel-in-distress premise, proceedings lacking the sheer oomph of many other R-rated genre-bending comedies — think Melissa McCarthy’s Spy (2015). If anything, Snatched comes off as a mere gimmick, filmmakers trying desperately hard to cash in on Mother’s Day madness, the movie released on said weekend all around the world — obviously to boost its opening numbers. If that’s not a sure sign of a turkey, I don’t know what is! But look, Snatched does have a couple of slight ‘saving graces;’ the support cast are reasonably solid, as is getting to see Goldie Hawn back on the big screen (even if her character, Linda Middleton, is pretty much given bupkis to do), the 71-year old actress not having appeared in a movie since 2002’s The Banger Sisters, opposite Susan Sarandon, some 14-years ago. How this unfunny mess of a film managed to lure Hawn out of ‘hiding,’ one will never know!

… guess that Jungle Fever’s starting to kick in!

Opening in the concrete jungle, New York City, we meet the self-absorbed Emily Middleton (Amy Schumer), a thirty-something retail assistant who can’t get her shit together, Emily losing her job for treating the store’s customers like her servants, who are only there to listen to her nauseating ramblings — talk about being ‘full of oneself!’ We also learn that she’d recently been dropped by her muso boyfriend Michael (Randall Park), who leaves Emily just as his band breaks the big time, Michael wanting to make the most of his pending fame, this newfound stardom giving him access to a wider range of female genitalia. Problem is, not only is Emily left heartbroken — coz this guy sounds like a real keeper! — but she’s stuck with a spare non-exchangeable ticket to Ecuador, the couple having planned a tropical getaway some months earlier.

Alas, after all of Emily’s friends (and acquaintances) turn down her offer of a ‘vacation for two,’ our protagonist tirelessly searching to find someone willing to take a trip with her — because who wouldn’t wanna go away with an obnoxious sloth that loves taking selfies? — she turns to her over-cautious, over-protective single mother, Linda, who’s clearly her last option. Having ‘walked on the wild side’ in her younger years, Linda now leads a quiet suburban life, her less-than-adventurous pottery classes being her chief source of excitement. Convincing her mom to put the ‘fun’ back in ‘non-refundable,’ Emily coerces Linda into traveling to South America, the women eager for an exciting and relaxing mother-daughter bonding retreat, Emily hoping that the trip would spice up both of their flavorless lives. However, even with Linda’s overconservative behavior — dressing like a ‘beekeeper’ when chillaxing by the pool — both Emily and her mother end up getting ‘Liam Neeson Taken’ after the love-struck Emily runs into the dashing James (Tom Bateman) at their hotel bar, a handsome holidayer who may or may not be responsible for the ladies’ abduction — *spoiler alert* I still have no idea whether James was actually involved, the reasons behind the kidnapping never outright explained! Now, with the women caged and captured, they’re forced to work together if they plan on escaping alive.

Behind every crazy woman, there’s an even crazier mother.

Written by Katie Dippold, The Heat (2013) — who’s stated that the script was ‘loosely’ based on her own life experiences (I can’t see how?) — and helmed by proven director Jonathan Levine, Warm Bodies (2013) — who normally doesn’t produce crap — Snatched is an uneven, uninteresting jumble. What went wrong? For starters, the plot (which, by the way, is predictable as f**k) plays out in a less-than-stellar manner, our heroines — who are only held hostage for a mere 5 minutes — lumbering through the perilous Amazon rainforest fighting for their lives, overcoming impossible (and unbelievable) obstacles along the way because, well, they’re new-age women with attitude — umm, no. With that said, Dippold’s paper-thin screenplay lacks inventiveness, the ladies thrust from one lame scenario to the next, and barley comes together as a whole, the entire ordeal feeling like a flat and lackluster, limply linked 90-minute collection of skits; it doesn’t help that the narrative is populated by disposable characters either. What’s more, Snatched sports an el cheapo production, even when a majority of the action takes place in an exotic locale, the film’s overall aesthetic quite bland and boring — so, it’s not even easy on the eyes.

Onto a more positive note, there’s a bizarre set piece featuring a slimy, CGI tapeworm — this parasite drawn out of the screeching Emily’s belly via a raw piece of dangling meat — a scene so wack and off-beat that, while tonally jarring, it re-energizes the flick’s tedious nature, this sequence arriving just in the nick of time, my boredom starting to kick in. There are also a handful of comical quips centering on cats (and, yes, I like cats) — visual gags about clothing with kitty-cat prints and a horrific feline clay sculpture so hideous that it’s bound to generate a smirk. And some of the self-deprecating humor works as well, with the actors mocking their own physicality and shortcomings.

Riding in Cars with Moms

Performance-wise, Hollywood icon Goldie Hawn is wasted — it’s great that you’ve got her back on the big screen but give her something to do next time, geez! Amy Schumer is, well, Amy Schumer, playing the same vile, vulgar, pain-in-the ass type role from Trainwreck (2015); and, to be quite blunt, I really don’t like Amy Schumer — she’s like an annoying friend-of-a-friend, one of those people you’re obligated to ‘put up with’ even though you find their antics overly irritating. Bias aside, Hawn and Schumer fail to sell their mother-daughter relationship, the pair never coming off as mildly related despite the fact that both are supposed to be polar opposites. Thankfully, the secondary players fare a lot better, these characters responsible for many of the flick’s standout moments. Ike Barinholtz, Neighbors (2014), is rather amusing as Emily’s agoraphobic bother Jeffrey, his back-and-fourth banter with state department worker Morgan Russell, played by Bashir Salahuddin from Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (2014), supplying some welcome laughs.

Outside of the Middleton clan, the ‘trouble in paradise’ leads the ladies to a number of fun run-ins with colorful characters who more or less wind up stealing the show (though, this isn’t too big of an achievement, considering that there’s little in the way of competition). The highlights are vacating pals Ruth, played by stand-up comic Wanda Sykes, and her ‘platonic friend,’ Barb, a scene-stealing Joan Cusack, Freaks of Nature (2015), the latter an ex-special ops agent who’d sliced off her own tongue (to prevent herself from blabbing about former assignments), the talented Cusack using her body and facial expressions, rather than dialogue, to generate laughs, Sykes and Cusack bouncing off one another nicely — it’s just a shame that this duo don’t get more screen time. Oh, and Christopher Meloni, from television’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999), is pretty good as explorer Roger Simmons, a venturer who aids the distraught dames through the perilous wilderness. On the flipside, treacherous Equadorian criminal Morgado (portrayed by Oscar Jaenada) — apparently skilled in the art of execution — comes off as (move over Marvel Studios) the most generic, one-note villain of 2017 (thus far), this caricature-esque crime-lord and his (trained?) thugs so feeble and unthreatening that Emily’s klutziness takes out the entire platoon — Please! What’s next? An Emily Middleton versus John Wick mash-up.

‘There’s a KFC just down the road.’

Sure, some may regard Snatched as harmless, throwaway entertainment, the flick’s jokes never too offensive, obscene or boundary-pushing to cause a stir; but seriously, this drivel is hardly ‘entertaining’ — I’ve watched Live Instagram streams that were more engaging. A slap on the face to mothers everywhere, Snatched is likely to be immediately forgotten right after viewing; though Schumer should consider herself lucky, her co-stars saving this one from becoming an utter trainwreck!

2 / 5 – Average

Reviewed by S-Littner

Snatched is released through 20th Century Fox Australia