Though Snatched tries its hardest, it’s impossible to completely mess up when you have two stars as naturally, magnetically watchable as Goldie Hawn and Amy Schumer.
Though Jonathan Levine’s new comedy Snatched tries its hardest, it’s impossible to completely mess up when you have two stars as naturally, magnetically watchable as Goldie Hawn and Amy Schumer. However, it’s not just each actress’s individual appeal and great chemistry together on display here. They also dig into the smarter, funnier parts of the script (by Kate Dippold, who co-wrote the similarly uneven Ghostbusters reboot, as well as the buddy cop comedy The Heat), and create real, interesting, unapologetically female protagonists who audiences will care about even when the outlandish, almost-offensive plot threatens to swallow them up.
Schumer plays Emily, a fun-loving, self-centered woman who feels as if she walked right out of an Inside Amy Schumer comedy sketch. The movie starts with Emily losing her boyfriend and her job before turning to her mother Linda (Hawn) for comfort. Emily persuades the hesitant Linda to accompany her on a trip to Ecuador with a very funny speech that could have been ripped straight from Schumer’s stand-up routine. Before you know it, they are kidnapped and end up in Colombia, which is one of those places, like Russia and North Korea, that filmmakers feel they can make patently awful without offending anyone (note to filmmakers: you cannot).
Plenty of physical, madcap comedy ensues, and while the overall plot is predictable, watching Schumer and Hawn is never dull. Schumer, who like other successful leading ladies such as Jennifer Lawrence and Anne Hathaway is often targeted by the online troll community, is an inherently likeable actor. Though like Snatched itself, most of the hatred towards her comes from her unapologetic womanhood. She does offend when telling jokes about race and is rightly criticized for doing so. Her Emily is no exception: she’s occasionally gross, sometimes sexy, mostly immature and thoroughly good-natured. Like all people, she has many facets, some of which are contradictory. Because of this, Emily is the kind of role that feels fresh simply because a woman is being portrayed in the same way a male protagonist usually is, (i.e. as a human).
Hawn’s Linda is less complicated. It often feels as if she’s just there to make Emily look more wild and crazy by comparison. This is a problem because Goldie Hawn is an excellent screen comedian, a master of the over-the-top, as evidenced by her famous roles in Cactus Flower, Overboard, The First Wives Club and others. But seeing her playing second fiddle to Schumer simply because she is older goes against the feminist message that the movie gets right in other ways. Still, Hawn plays Linda with just the right mixture of warmth and hesitation, which sets up a few of the film’s more successful moments.
Director Levine has made better movies (such as the excellent, under-seen 50/50 and the cult horror flick All the Boys Love Mandy Lane), but still executes Snatched with flair, and he intelligently keeps the focus on Schumer and Hawn even when the action escalates. He knows the draw here. Florian Ballhaus’s cinematography and Chris Bacon and Theodore Shapiro’s music are both solid, making the South American setting come alive, while supporting turns by Joan Cusack, Christopher Meloni and Wanda Sykes are all welcome and enjoyable.
Despite its borderline offensive plot (which it tries to apologize for) and occasional stifling of Goldie Hawn’s Goldie Hawn-ness, Snatched is a warm, likable film that serves as an excellent showcase for Amy Schumer and a nice comeback vehicle for Hawn. While the marketing has narrowed in on the Mother’s Day crowd, it’s a film that should make just about anyone laugh out loud.