Published May 11, 2017Just when it looked as if Amy Schumer was about to be pulled under by the kind of inevitable backlash that can often follow the massive success of a comedian — let alone a female comedian — she avoids the sophomore cinematic slump with the consistently funny Snatched.
Paired with legendary comedic actress Goldie Hawn and surrounded by a well-rounded cast of supporting characters, she proves that Trainwreck was no fluke for her as a leading lady in this freewheeling comedy that, despite hewing closely to a worn-out formula, is at least somewhat creative in the way it fills in the blanks of that formula.
Schumer is Emily, an aimless woman who not only loses her retail job in the film's opening scenes but is also dumped by her musician boyfriend (Randall Park). Stuck with an extra ticket for a trip to Ecuador she had planned with him, Emily eventually turns to her mother, Linda (Hawn). Linda's your stereotypical aging cat lady, long given up on love and adventure in the wake of her husband leaving. She now finds solace in a good book and by doting on her grown-up agoraphobic son, Jeffery (Ike Barinholtz).
She reluctantly agrees to go along with Emily, though she's adamant about just spending her days lounging by the pool with a book. Emily, meanwhile, meets a handsome man at the resort bar one night, and after spending a fun drunken night partying together, the two make plans to bring Linda along for an exciting excursion the next day. But things predictably go awry when a van crashes into their vehicle and Emily and Linda end up abducted by a gang of kidnappers led by the fearsome Morgado (Oscar Jaenada), who demand a ransom for their release. They manage to escape, but are pursued by Morgado and his family throughout the rest of the film, as the duo attempts to reach the American Embassy in Bogota, Colombia.
While Schumer and Hawn have great natural chemistry, the film supplements their amusing mother-daughter dynamic with a handful of other amusing characters. Barinholtz shines as the developmentally arrested son who gradually takes command of the situation and continuously pesters a government official (Bashir Salahuddin) until the poor bureaucrat's at his wits' end. Wanda Sykes and Joan Cusack have a lot of fun as a "platonic" couple at the resort that try to help out, with Cusack playing a former special ops agent who cut out her own tongue to better avoid spilling any info while being interrogated. But best of all may be Christopher Meloni as a rugged adventurer who takes Emily and Linda under his wing but might be hiding a few secrets about his true identity.
The film strains believability at times by making the pitfalls they face never quite as dangerous or dire as they would be in a different kind of movie, but we're willing to suspend some disbelief for the sake of comedy. For instance, one set piece involving Emily dealing with a tapeworm is so broad (and kind of gross) that it might as well be straight out of a cartoon. It's a little harder, however, to overlook how perfunctory the scenes feel where Emily and Linda share a heart-to-heart about their relationship in the midst of their ordeal.
Though Schumer and Hawn may be the marquee names in front of the camera, the unsung heroes behind the scenes here are screenwriter Katie Dippold (Ghostbusters, The Heat) and director Jonathan Levine (50/50, The Night Before). Dippold's script is an episodic and unabashedly goofy romp that boasts some inspired running jokes and set pieces. Levine helps keep all of the extraordinary events grounded in at least some semblance of reality while bringing a little bit of style and flair to the proceedings.
Transporting you through a variety of tropical settings with a barrelful of laughs in tow, Snatched is the ideal sort of easily digested yet entirely disposable adventure comedy to properly kick off the summer movie season.