Snatched is a 90 minute film that should’ve been 60, a dull comedy forced to share the screen with an awful adventure. It’s got white privilege, annoying lead characters and a plot that’s startlingly devoid of thrills, laughs or fun. Considering this is an action comedy about two women forced to escape kidnappers in an exotic locale, that’s surprising. This material should’ve been ripe for comedy, but writer Katie Dippold (The Heat) fails to take advantage of what remains a good premise for a movie.
Her first misstep was creating such an unlikable lead character. That’s Emily (Amy Schumer), a young woman always more interested in acting ridiculous than constructive. Calling her a narcissist his too kind; she’s the distillation of how social media has unleashed a self-centered streak in certain people. Emily quits her job expecting her musician boyfriend Michael to become rich and famous. She also thinks that Michael will accompany her on a non-fundable trip to Ecuador she’s taking. He gets famous, but doesn’t go.
Emily asks all her friends to join her; they decline in ways that make you question how she has any (one claims Emily still owes her a few hundred dollars). Stuck, she proposes to her mom Linda (Goldie Hawn) that she come to Ecuador.
It’s obligatory to note that this is Hawn’s first film since 2002. If I were her, I would’ve stayed retired. Goldie tries to inject some life into a role that just doesn't suit her, but there's no saving this obvious mismatch. Linda is an uptight woman content to sit at home with her cats and middle-aged son Jeffrey (Ike Barinholtz), while Hawn is at her best playing ditzes. Essentially, she spends nearly 90 minutes acting stuck-up and concerned. A better choice for this role would’ve been an actress like Jessica Lange.
Schumer is a good actress, but her arrogant, trashy stereotype is the most annoying screen persona on film. She carries a few of the dramatic scenes well, but watching her act like an stuck-up brat for most of the movie doesn’t do much in making me feel sympathy for her. I haven’t seen a comedy with such an unlikeable lead character recently.
Once there, they get snatched (ha) by rogue South Americans. An escape happens, and we watch them venture through a jungle. I’m getting bored writing this summary.
Maybe that’s because Snatched confuses being ridiculous with being funny. In the course of the movie, we see people impaled with a spear, fall off of cliffs and get infected with a tapeworm. What the trailers promised would be a hilarious action-comedy starring two women instead turns into a slog through a jungle. I didn’t care about Emily, Linda was too boring to watch, and most of the supporting characters were useless.
The main problem is that somehow, at 90 minutes, Snatched feels stuffed with a mountain of extra characters and plot that shouldn’t be there. An entire subplot is devoted to Jeffrey trying to convince a government worker to rescue his family. Meanwhile, Linda and Emily are helped in their escape by a former special ops soldier (Joan Cusack) and her friend (Wanda Sykes). You essentially have two different storylines that are accomplishing the same thing when only one is needed. But you see all of them in their unneeded glory. Throw in some really drawn out jokes (not as bad as Trainwreck, but still), and this jungle adventure becomes a slog.
There are some amusing gags. The best is a would-be adventurer (Christopher Meloni) that commands you attention; I wished he was in the film for longer. But those are the only funny parts I remember.
Is this film racist? I wouldn’t claim that, but it is tone-deaf. Schumer does frequently crack jokes about South American culture; while the movie points out she’s stupid for saying it, this happens so much you wonder if Snatched thinks it’s okay. I would point out to other critics that there’s a difference between racist statements and ones that are common sense (like don’t go off with a random stranger in a foreign country), but this movie is a hard target to defend.
Post-script: There’s a short intro to the film where Schumer and Hawn thank viewers for attending. This sort of “we appreciate you coming!” message is polite, but it feels like Hollywood is trying to buy my support with pleasantries. Yes, I have weird standards.
Published by Jagger Czajka