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Snatched

Theatrical Review


20th Century Fox; 98 minutes

Director: Jonathan Levine


Written by on May 13, 2017 




A dim-witted offering released in time for Mother’s Day, Snatched — directed by Jonathan Levine from a script by Katie Dippold — is a low-energy action comedy without much laughter. (You know you’re in trouble when a frequent joke involves misunderstanding “come” for “cum.”) Much of the humor falls painfully flat as Amy Schumer does her usual shtick as Emily, a woman with deep insecurities who enjoys a party or two. Goldie Hawn, who has been absent from the silver screen since 2002’s The Banger Sisters, plays her cat-loving mom Linda. She lives with her mentally challenged son Jeffrey (Ike Barinholtz), a shut-in who makes a living teaching piano lessons. When Emily breaks up with musician boyfriend, she’s stuck with a non-refundable trip to a resort in Ecuador and convinces the adventure-adverse Linda to “come” with her. She mistakes a “welcome” drink given by porters in the hotel lobby with “whale cum,” and things go downhill from there.

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Trying hard to sell this picture, many of the film’s somewhat brighter comic moments end up in the trailer where they actually land better. The comedic timing is off in the film as Jonathan Levine lingers a little too long in the moment, perhaps expecting uproarious laughter. While the thinly-attended Friday night crowd at my local multiplex chuckled a bit here and there, Snatched fails to yield any moments of real hilarity.

Emily is seduced by James (Tom Bateman), a handsome stranger with an ambitious accent who promises to take her on an adventure. This first involves getting shit-faced drunk with her in a scene that features an exotic party, a capoeira accident that fails to land a laugh, some dancing, and a lot of shots. At least the actors, shooting in Hawaii, probably had a nice time. Snatched has that in common with a few of Adam Sander’s recent pictures.

James soon leads Emily and Linda into a kidnapping and an eventual escape as the duo trek across the thick Columbian jungle to safety, along the way meeting up with Roger (Christopher Meloni), an international man of mystery with a CV that includes a stint as a Trader Joe’s manager in Rochester, NY. If only they encountered John McAfee, the illusive software billionaire/mercenary/Libertarian Presidential candidate who starred in Nanette Burstein’s terrific doc Gringo — perhaps you ought to rent that film instead.

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Eventually all is well and the story wraps up in the most predictable way. Snatched is a story you’ve seen a thousand times with some cultural insensitivity thrown in for good measure. The film’s screenplay by Dippold, known for her Melissa McCarthy collaborations, proves to be a flawed blueprint that cannot be saved even by a Levine, who has successfully made several different kinds of comedies, including The Wackness, 50/50, and The Night Before.

In the most disappointing miscalculation, Schumer and Hawn seem to be lacking chemistry together in a relationship that walks familiar ground without really offering any kind of subversive take on the material. It’s a shame given how genuinely funny Schumer can be when performing her own material, as in Trainwreck; perhaps she should have taken charge of this project. Snatched could have been a spirited send-up of these kinds of adventure films, but, then again, can human trafficking ever be funny? Let’s not even go there.

Snatched is now in wide release.


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