Oh, Snatched…What potential there was in this film. The film’s pedigree was one that really looked promising from the start. Led by Amy Schumer, one of the hottest comedians working right now, the return of Goldie Hawn after fifteen years away from the silver screen, and the incredibly talented Jonathan Levine in the director’s chair. This should have been a fun comedy romp that would be a good way to spend some time at the theater, but instead it’s a tedious misfire that is incredibly frustrating to sit through.
From Snatched’s opening moments, we’re introduced to Amy Schumer’s Emily Middleton, a self centered, and rather unpleasant woman, who is just floating through life. She’s terrible to everyone around her, has no ambition, and is just floating through life blaming other for her problems. When her boyfriend breaks up with her, she’s more upset that they have a vacation to South America that they planned together that’s non-refundable, and now she’s stuck with it. No one wants to go with her, so she guilt trips her mother, Linda (Goldie Hawn), into going with her. The two are polar opposites, Emily as the adventurous and free spirited woman yin to her mother’s overly cautious yang. When they arrive in Ecuador, things quickly go sideways as the two women are kidnapped, and they’re forced to fight for their lives and get back home. Cue laughs and general hilarity!
Or don’t. After the film’s opening ten minutes, the comedy quickly dries up, and what the audience is left with a slog of a film with hints of charm. The biggest problem is Amy’s Emily is a terribly unlikable character throughout the film. She’s so terrible to the people around her all the time, it makes you instantly dislike her. The movie even goes as far to make that point, as she asks people to come on her vacation on social media, and people comment on her page just to tell her no. In Seinfeld, the show worked because even though the characters weren’t great, they got their comeuppance many times. Here, you’re hoping Emily can learn to be a real person who cares about people, but it’s honestly hard to care when she’s just not a good person. This fact holds the entire film back from ever taking off, or making Emily a character you care for.
On the other hand, Goldie Hawn’s Linda is a character you genuinely care about, because she’s relatable and fun. The fact that Emily is so terrible to her all the time, but her mom still cares about her is a truly noble thing, and something that really drives her. Hawn is wonderful throughout the film, and it’s so great to have her on screen again. The truth is, Snatched is an Amy Schumer vehicle, but this is Goldie Hawn’s film from beginning to end, stealing almost all her scenes as the overly cautious mother. She feels like a real character that you can empathize with throughout, and you just want her to win in the end, because she deserves it. It’s too bad her daughter is so abrasive and rude to her throughout the film, because at times, you wish that Linda would just leave Emily in the middle of the jungle to find her own way. Amy and Goldie do have great chemistry, and their pairing is fun, but again, Emily as a character is just so aggravating that she drags the film down around her.
It doesn’t help that a lot of the humor in Snatched feels worn and tired. There’s so many movies about mending the mother-daughter relationship that do this story better, it doesn’t ever feel compelling. While you wait for Emily to finally have her revelation that she can be a good person, you just watch Linda get dragged through the mud by her daughter, and it gives the movie very little heart. That lack of heart, which is surprising considering that most of Jonathan Levine’s films are chock full of heart, seriously hinders this film. There are so many comedies that do this story better that this just feels like a waste of time.
There is something to be said though about the side characters in the film, who really do add life to the film outside of Goldie Hawn. In particular, Christopher Meloni’s wannabe Indiana Jones, Roger Simmons, steals every scene he’s in. His presence is so much fun, and it’s hard not to laugh every time the character opens his mouth. Everything he says and does is ridiculous, but perfectly so, and really enhances the film. The same could be said about Joan Cusack’s Barb, which is especially surprising considering she has no dialogue in the film. She’s an EX secret intelligence agent who cut her tongue out to keep her secrets to herself, but she’s so perfectly realized by Cusack that you can’t keep your eyes off her in the movie. It’s one of the funniest performances in the film, bar none, and reminds us why Joan Cusack is still the best at what she does.
The biggest disappointment though is really just the lack of comedy throughout the film. Hawn tries her best to make the material work, but there’s just nothing here. Meloni and Cusack both steal the film, and are easily the film’s comedy standouts, but it’s incredibly frustrating how little else works. There’s a gag about Emily having a tapeworm that’s supposed to be funny, but it ends up just being used for shock value, and it’s never actually funny. The same could be said about her character and how she accidentally kills all the villains one by one throughout, but not actually having any skills to do so. These jokes seem so below Jonathan Levine’s standards, and his past work shows he can do better than this, but something in this material just doesn’t click with him. Where as The Night Before ended up being a vulgar, yet heartwarming and funny holiday film, Snatched never rises above just being vulgar, and it really just sinks the film.
Unfortunately, Snatched really isn’t a good film, let alone a good comedy. Amy Schumer’s Emily holds the entire film back from ever taking off, while Goldie Hawn tries her best to make the movie work in spite of her. If it wasn’t for Christopher Meloni or Joan Cusack, there would be very little comedy overall, and that’s not what you want for a big summer comedy. This movie had all the ingredients to work, but it never comes together in any particular way that’s either fun or memorable. This is a rare misfire for all those involved, which is too bad, because it could have been something truly special.