Snatched Directed by Jonathan Levine (R)

In 2015, comedian Amy Schumer made a strong impression with her starring debut in Trainwreck. She stays with the silly business in Snatched, a kidnapping/survival comedy that’s rarely consistent, but periodically hilarious. It’s Schumer’s attempt at a buddy comedy in which she’s wisely paired up with Goldie Hawn, coming out of semi-retirement (her last acting gig was 2002’s The Banger Sisters) and helping Snatched crawl out of the tonal whoppers it occasionally finds itself in.

 

Photo courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

One minute Snatched is all gooey
about family and the next it’s showcasing a giant CGI tapeworm.


Recently dumped by her musician boyfriend, Emily (Amy Schumer) is heartbroken, freaking out about a trip to Ecuador the pair was just about to take. Unable to find anyone to replace him for a non-refundable vacation, Emily decides to ask her mother, Linda (Goldie Hawn).


Arriving in paradise, Emily is seduced by James (Tom Bateman), a British stranger who lures the single woman and Linda into a sense of trust, eventually serving them up to a local gang hoping to profit off their kidnapping.


While Jeffrey (Ike Barinholtz), her agoraphobic brother, tries to trigger a rescue effort from home, Emily is left to manage an escape plan with Linda, bumbling their way through the Amazon, with hopes to reach an American Embassy before they’re killed by their ruthless captors.


Director Jonathan Levine (50/50, The Night Before) and screenwriter Katie Dippold (The Heat, 2016’s Ghostbusters) like to celebrate Emily’s clumsy, messy ways. The concept is to pair Emily’s irresponsibility with Linda’s uptightness. Dippold isn’t exactly conjuring originality, but the material remains buoyant, celebrating a special union about to be tested in full by their kidnapping.


The twosome soon enter a fancy hotel and begin to treat themselves, meeting fellow American Ruth (Wanda Sykes), who freely shares the black ops backstory of her partner, Barb (Joan Cusack, in Chaplin mode), a former government assassin who cut out her own tongue. It’s the first oddball offering in Snatched, but not the last.


Vulgarity is Schumer’s specialty and she doesn’t reach high here. Emily is caught washing her vagina in a restaurant sink and breaking wind in a king-sized hotel bed she shares with her mother. Schumer maintains her impressive timing and acting skills, making a believable daughter to the iconic Hawn, who is also a treat.


Snatched takes a few head-spinning detours, going so far as to pair a sincere confession scene when Emily and Linda finally have it out about their relationship, with a broad sequence featuring Emily’s tapeworm, turning Snatched into a horror movie for a moment and underlining how undisciplined the feature is at times. One minute the effort goes gooey about family, the next it’s showcasing a CGI worm being yanked out of Emily’s throat.


Snatched could be tighter and more inventive, but it’s funny, and that’s all that really matters here. Individual scenes are definitely stronger than the whole, but when all else breaks down, there’s Schumer and Hawn doing a terrific job with sentiment and slapstick.

 

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