Be wary of any comedy with such a conspicuous amount of talented performers as Snatched. Maybe it’ll be the star-studded movie event of the decade, but more than likely it’ll be an exercise in coasting, with a few laughs here and there but occupying much of the running time with mugging and lesser gags hogging the spotlight. Snatched is an entire entrée constructed of supporting flavors with no main ingredient, like ordering a bacon cheeseburger only they forgot the beef. What parts they included are fine, but there’s a lack of anything holding it all together and it will leave you totally unsatisfied in the end.
R, 90 minutes
Regal Stonefield 14 and IMAX, Violet Crown Cinema
Snatched follows Emily (Amy Schumer) and her mother, Linda (Goldie Hawn), on a vacation to Ecuador. Emily purchased the nonrefundable trip expecting to go with her boyfriend (Randall Park), only to be dumped before they leave. Unable to find a substitute, Emily insists Linda join her after discovering her mother was a jetsetting adventurer in her youth, a far cry from her present life as an overly cautious homebody who lives with her cats and “agoraphobic” (read: immature) son Jeffrey (Ike Barinholtz).
Linda relents, and the two take off for an exclusive resort. Emily wants to break out of the limited experience provided by the hotel, while Linda wants to read her book by the safety of the pool. Fellow hotel guests and oddball pair Ruth and Barb (Wanda Sykes and Joan Cusack) spell out the many ways Americans are kidnapped in foreign countries. Linda feels validated while Emily joins a mysterious, handsome stranger to see the sights and go to exclusive parties, and after convincing her mother to join her, the two are abducted and held for ransom.
The chemistry between Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn is real, and the characters are well developed enough to make the first 20 minutes feel like a movie you’d want you spend some time with.
This is where the movie takes a massive nosedive. The chemistry between Schumer and Hawn is real, and the characters are well developed enough to make the first 20 minutes feel like a movie you’d want to spend some time with. Then, right when it should get outrageous and unpredictable, precisely the opposite happens as director Jonathan Levine (50/50) leans on celebrity cameos, overly broadcasted punchlines and gags that don’t make sense and feel pulled from an entirely different movie.
For example, after escaping their kidnappers, Emily and Linda encounter an Indiana Jones-esque adventurer (Christopher Meloni). A fun idea on paper, but the normally excellent Meloni is hamming it up like he’s in one of his other famous comedic roles (Harold & Kumar, Wet Hot American Summer). He’s very good at it, but it complements no one and makes no sense in the style and rhythm of Snatched. The much-advertised tapeworm scene comes out of nowhere and doesn’t set itself up or go anywhere; it just happens and everyone moves on. The kidnapper pursuing them—ostensibly the main point of the movie—is an afterthought and was never all that funny, exciting, interesting, or ANYTHING to begin with.
Levine and writer Katie Dippold (The Heat, Ghostbusters) have an eye toward lampooning the white-Americans-in-trouble tale, depicting Emily and Linda as a greater destructive force with their privilege and naiveté. It’s not a bad idea, and it’s ripe territory for satire, but it never does more than suggest it as a theme before abandoning the idea while not being funny in the meantime. At least the jokes are never directly at the expense of Ecuadorians or their culture, so there’s that.
The saving grace of Snatched, if you absolutely must see it, is its main supporting cast. The relationship between Jeffrey and the State Department worker he pesters into helping (Bashir Salahuddin) is worthy of its own movie, as are Ruth and Barb. Schumer and Hawn commit, but they belong in a movie that better suits their talents. This movie didn’t need to exist, so let’s just all act like it never did and find something better suited to these performers.
Playing this week
Regal Stonefield 14 and IMAX
The Shops at Stonefield, 244-3213
Beauty and the Beast, Born in China, The Boss Baby, The Circle, The Fifth Element, Get Out, Going in Style, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, The Wall
Violet Crown Cinema
200 W. Main St., Downtown Mall, 529-3000
A Quiet Passion, Beauty and the Beast, The Circle, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Kedi, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, The Lost City of Z, Their Finest, The Wall