“Help me put the ‘fun’ in non-refundable.”
Comedy comes in many shades. There are brilliant satires and abysmal parodies. For every Airplane!, Duck Soup or, I’ll say it, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy, there are at least two or three All About Steve-level disasters and outright misfires that make everyone in the multiplex feel terrible. But admit comedy greats and pure time wasters are the middling farces. They’re trickier to define. They neither have you rolling in your seat nor leave you slinking in your seat, waiting for the misery to end. They simply exist; they’re sprinkled with a handful of chuckles but they never fill you with rewarding belly laughs. You’re left in a daze of mediocrity, then you leave with a shrug in your shoulder. These type of comedies don’t often get the spotlight, especially because they hardly ever leave you with anything to say. That’s exactly the case with Snatched, the raunchy, if moderately gentle-hearted, mother-daughter action-comedy that neither wastes nor benefits its talented leads, Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn. It’s a well-paced, moderately amusing but ultimately unremarkable new comedy that neither seizes the opportunity to shine nor leaves Schumer and Hawn stranded. It’s an entirely middle-of-the-road comedy adventure.
Perpetuate womanchild Emily Middleton (Schumer) isn’t having a great day. She lost her job. Her rocker boyfriend Michael (Randall Park) dumps her in search of “more pussy,” and with that, she’s left without anyone to join her in her non-refundable trip to Ecuador. Her friends can’t (or won’t) go, and she’s not searching for a new man in her life, so she’s left with no choice but to ask her dear mother Linda (Hawn), a sheltered, endlessly nervous cat lady who hasn’t made much of her life since her divorce many years ago. After some strong reluctance, Linda agrees, and they’re on their way to South America, trying to enjoy their vacation for as long as they can without restoring to bickering. The Guilt Trip meets The Trip, you might ask? In a way, yes, but that’s before Emily runs into handsome stranger James (Tom Bateman), a charismatic adventure man who finds himself taken by Emily’s ditzy ways. After one insane, hard drinking night of debauchery, Tom invites Emily and Linda on a trip through the gorgeous locale. Of course, however, it’s all an elaborate con, and Emily and Linda are soon kidnapped and forced at ransom to meet the demands of their vicious captor, the mysterious, dangerous Morgando (Oscar Jaenada).
But they escape, if not without blood on their hands, and soon they’re on the lam, trying to make their way to safety at the U.S. Embassy. There’s peril (along with more-than-a-few crude jokes) along the way. But above all else, it’s an opportunity to Hawn and Schumer to share the screen together, and they’re not a bad pair. The screen doesn’t radiate with their chemistry, but they’re a charming enough duo. They both truly put their hearts into this one, and they’re both passionate, committed performers giving it what they can. It’s a shame that Snatched couldn’t place that enthusiasm into anything constructive or engaging. The plot is rote, but it’s also not without sparkling possibilities, and it’s wonderful to see Hawn return to the screen after 15 long years away. Her warmth and caring spirit propels Snatched into something sweeter and more emotionally resonate than it would’ve been otherwise, yet that’s not enough to create enough genuine investment. The characters themselves are broadly drawn, familiar-to-a-fault personalities. For every winning joke, there are quite a few more that fail.
Director Jonathan Levine has quickly become one of our finest dramedy filmmakers. With The Wackness, 50/50 and The Night Before, he displayed a deft hand for comedy and relatable drama which isn’t given its full due in his latest picture. That’s not to suggest that it’s poorly made; Levine handles himself competently and he knows how to bring out some enjoyable performances, most especially from supporting players Wanda Skyes, Christopher Meloni and Joan Cusack in a wordless performance. As if she hasn’t gotten the short shift throughout her career enough. Everyone is committed and ready to excel, yet the movie only barely picks up. The set up is tired before it even begins, and despite the affections of the cast, nobody shines quite as bright as they should. For a movie about a couple of ladies lost in the jungle, Snatched could use some salvation.