MOVIE REVIEW – SNATCHED. With Amy Schumer, Goldie Hawn, Ike Barinholtz, Wanda Sykes, Joan Cusack. Written by Katie Dippold. Directed by Jonathan Levine. Rated R for crude sexual content, brief nudity, and language throughout. 90 minutes.
There’s so many ways that SNATCHED could have gone wrong that it’s amazing that they managed to pull it off, more or less. Making the leads more aggressively stupid (think Melissa McCarthy or Adam Sandler) and making it a film in which the other characters exist to be humiliated by the leads (too many examples to mention) might have spelled box office success, but it would have been just another lowest-common-denominator comedy.
While we get the expected bodily function jokes and gross-out humor, the movie also has heart. Mother (Goldie Hawn, in her first movie in 15 years) and daughter (Amy Schumer), may bicker but–in the best tradition of these sort of “buddy” comedies–each has something to learn from the other. Director Jonathan Levin and screenwriter Katie Dippold surround them with comic characters who don’t have to be treated like idiots to make us laugh, and the result is a movie that will no doubt find appreciative audiences on Mother’s Day weekend.
Emily (Schumer) has just lost her job and her boyfriend, and has non-refundable tickets for two to Ecuador. Unable to find anyone to go with her, she ends up taking her mother Linda (Hawn). The miscommunications between the two ring true. Linda claims Emily hardly ever visits. Emily claims Linda is constantly putting her down. Neither can see the world through the other’s eyes, and that’s the problem the film sets out to solve.
In terms of plot, the two women are kidnapped and held for ransom (presumably under the theory that any American who can afford a vacation at a South American resort must be rich). Unfortunately, the only family back in the States is Emily’s brother (Ike Barinholtz) who’s afraid to leave the house and calls Linda “Mama” (emphasis on the second syllable). Thus when they escape they are left to their own devices and the people the meet along the way, including a manic couple of tourists (Wanda Sykes, Joan Cusack) who have some experience in counter-intelligence.
As the mother, Hawn’s character relies a little too much on caricature, but the problem is with the writing, not the performance. Whether it’s doing a spit take or observing how her daughter has become more responsible than she’s given credit for, Hawn remains a strong screen presence. Schumer gets more of the broad humor, but she also gets to show an adult daughter discovering that her mother was young once too. When they dance together during the closing credits we get the sense that both the characters and the actresses have come to enjoy their time together.
“Snatched” is like a Mother’s Day brunch. It’s enjoyable enough if you’re celebrating the day, but may leave you feeling a bit off-target if you’re not.•••
Daniel M. Kimmel is a veteran movie critic and author of a host of film-related books. His latest novel is Time on My Hands: My Misadventures in Time Travel. He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.