Snatched (2024)


Snatched Review

“Snatched” is one comedy of concept. Goldie Hawn and Amy Schumer play a mother and daughter who get kidnapped while on vacation in Ecuador. It’s a buddy comedy. It’s a fish-out-of-water comedy. It’s a rowdy girl-power comedy.

But it isn’t much more than that. Hawn and Schumer are given hardly-there characters to embody as they lurch from one absurd situation to another, they’re accompanied by a cadre of kooks, including Wanda Sykes and Joan Cusack, as well as the requisite odd couple who help them along the way. The women are supposedly pushed out of their comfort zones and closer to each other over the course of the trip. The end.

On an airplane flight to your own vacation, “Snatched” might make time pass with sporadic amusement. As an exercise in channel-surfing on a lazy afternoon while drowsy from cold medication, it’s harmless, forgettable fun. But as a summer-kickoff comic adventure, it’s an exasperating squandering of talent.

Hawn has not appeared in a feature film for 15 years (since 2002’s “The Banger Sisters”). Here she plays Linda, a cautious cat lady who displays an unnatural calm when things get tough. Hawn has elevated similarly disposable material throughout her career (“Foul Play,” “Overboard,” “Bird on a Wire”), and it’s nice to see her again; still, why come out of retirement for this? The timing is there, but she seems awkwardly confined; you want her to burst forth with her signature brand of kooky.

Schumer does yet another version of her familiar persona here although she did it more effectively (and surprisingly poignantly) two years ago in “Trainwreck.” Emily is boozy and blowsy; she can be selfish and vapid but fun, too. Her underlying insecurity and knack for tossed-off, self-deprecating asides make her an unexpectedly endearing figure.

Both Linda and Emily get tested repeatedly in “Snatched,” but the actresses playing them rarely do. They have a few solid moments together, particularly early on, which hint at what might have been with crisper direction and stronger material. It’s as if the notion of Hawn and Schumer playing a bickering mother and daughter were enough; it isn’t.

Director Jonathan Levine has shown far more adeptness at blending different genres and tones with his previous films, such as the great comedy-drama “50/50” and the horror comedy “Warm Bodies.” But here, his blending of action and laughs never quite comes together, there’s a lifelessness to the physicality and a shriekiness to the humor.

Similarly, screenwriter Katie Dippold has done a better job of creating strong, delightfully odd women with her work on “The Heat” (also directed by Feig) and last summer’s all female “Ghostbusters” reboot. But here, they never really veer from type until suddenly inexplicably being called upon to have change-of-heart moments near the end. Sykes and Cusack show up periodically as overly prepared platonic life partners who help Linda and Emily out of various jams; their dynamic feels half-baked as well.

But one must give credit where it is due. Emily, who is living in a world of fantasy, loses her job and her rockstar boyfriend (Randall Park steals every scene he’s in) dumps her all in one day. The humor in “Snatched” is not only dry but also understated; it sneaks up on you as there are certain beats that you become accustomed to and then they aren’t followed. They were supposed to go on a romantic trip to Ecuador together; when none of her friends will accompany her instead, she guilts her mother into leaving Emily’s nerdy agoraphobic brother (Ike Barinholtz hilarious in an underwritten role) and flying with her.

However, things go awry when Emily starts flirting with the handsome stranger at the hotel bar. She and Linda get kidnapped by white slavery thugs somewhere between their hotel room and the beach. In truth, though, the only thing this film has against any nationality other than American is a dull joke about Linda thinking “South America” means Atlanta.

From then on out they bicker like real family members do over everything from how loudly she chews to whether or not licking a live tapeworm will make you lose weight faster. The script does little more than addle around its plot points: they escape their captors just for some reason to let themselves get captured again by different ones, etc., And while nothing that happens during this time can be described as “convincing,” much less “funny,” it’s while the two women are tied up together in a dark basement that Hawn gets off the line that single-handedly saves half of this movie: Asked by Schumer if she ever thought they’d end up like this and meaning

Meanwhile back home Emily’s brother Jeffrey freaks right out from behind his bedroom door so she calls 911 which depressingly leads us into several minutes of jokes about the inefficiency and general apathy of our nation’s state department. The film randomly jerks into a high-gross-out subplot midway through involving former “Wet Hot American Summer” co-star Barinholtz who looks REALLY weird in a wig and Christopher Meloni as a deranged explorer with worms growing out of his face.

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