Directed by Jonathan Levine
Starring Amy Schumer, Goldie Hawn, Ike Barinholtz
When the social media obsessed Emily Middleton (Amy Schumer) loses both her job and her boyfriend, she finds herself dejectedly returning to her mother’s house for comfort. Stuck with two non-refundable tickets for an exotic South American vacation, Emily finally manages to convince her paranoid mother, Linda (Goldie Hawn), to come along. Within 48 hours they are fighting armed kidnappers, intestinal parasites, the unforgiving jungle, and each other.
A rather patchy comedy, Snatched is blessed by being just a fraction more hit than miss.
Part of this is due to the sheer speed of the jokes, coming out in a scatter-shot fashion. With more rounds down the range, enough of them find their mark to produce a laugh.
Part of this is due to the draw of the main cast, with Schumer delivering her usual comedy standard. Although her comedy may be divisive for audiences, and often reliant on crude shock value, you just can’t fault her commitment to the routine and her comedic timing. It also does speak to the modern woman, and engages with and rallies against projected ideal images of womanhood. Hawn by comparison is perhaps a little too subdued, but provides a good straight (wo)man for Schumer (and in truth, after a decade and a half absence from the screen, audiences wanted more).
Part of this is from some scene stealing performances by a number of great character actors in minor roles. Wanda Sykes and a silent Joan Cusack as a ‘platonic’ ex-military couple are screamingly funny in every one of the pitifully few scenes they are in. Same can be said for a very quick appearance for Christopher Meloni (Law and Order: SVU), that completely flips Romancing the Stone (1984) on it’s head (with a slight feminist bent).
The result works, but is just a bit piecemeal in it delivery and timing. When it is on, it can really fire on all cylinders, delivering some extremely inappropriate comedy that is very funny. At other times that gross out element is just pushed a little too far, or it fails in the other direction producing something that is full of family schmaltz. It’s indicative of the fine comedic line that Snatched tries to walk, and occasionally stumbles over.
As for theme, well there’s a little bit about our obsession with projecting the perfect life through social media, rather than living in the moment. There is also an exploration of the mother daughter relationship (mother-children relationship if you wish to include Ike Barinholtz’s third Middleton- who would fund a 50ft gold statue for Freud with the therapy sessions). Neither of those themes are explored in any depth, or with any degree of originality, but that’s really not what Snatched is about as a film. Instead it is at its best when it’s focused on the comedy.
An uneven mother-daughter buddy comedy that doesn’t live up to the potential, it does deliver enough laughs to almost make up for that.