Amy Schumer stars in Snatched, a story about a mother daughter trip to Ecuador gone horribly, and hilariously wrong. Well, perhaps not hilariously, though that certainly was the intention. Schumer plays Emily Middleton, a lazy, idiotic young woman whose plans go up in flames when she’s dumped by her boyfriend. With a non-refundable trip to Ecuador already planned, Emily invites her mother along to revive her lust for adventure. Emily’s mother Linda is played by none other than Goldie Hawn, whose last film role was in 2002’s The Banger Sisters. It’s easy to see what attracted Hawn to make a return to film, as the talent is certainly here. Director Jonathan Levine crafted the underrated 50/50, and writer Katie Dippold was behind smash-hits The Heat and Spy.
What then, went wrong? How is it that such a talented cast (including supporting turns from Wanda Sykes, Joan Cusack, Ike Barinholtz and Christopher Meloni) and crew made a film so thoroughly mediocre? The problems certainly form around the fact that the characters are thinly drawn. Emily’s shtick as a clumsy, whiny, cocktail-fueled brat gives Schumer little to work with, and while she’s a gifted performer, there simply isn’t enough here. The same issue exists for Hawn, as her character Linda plays up every trope of a lonely older woman, right down to obsessing over her cats and having no idea how to properly use Facebook. Thankfully, Hawn still manages to shine just as she has in several comic roles, and you would never guess that she’s been gone from the screen for fifteen years. Furthermore, the Linda and Emily never convince as a mother-daughter duo, lending a lack of credibility to most of the film, though this is largely because the first act, which establishes their relationship, is so rushed.
Once Emily convinces Linda to join her on her Ecuadorian getaway, the film loses any interest in building the mother daughter relationship, and is keen to relish in the apparent chaos that a trip in a foreign land can bring. It is not long after their arrival in Ecuador that Emily and Linda are kidnapped (get it? The film is about two women getting kidnapped and its called Snatched! Truly hilarious, no?). Though both mother and daughter are framed as quite incompetent, it turns out that their captors are even more so, and this is likely since they are written as even thinner caricatures than the main characters. Relying on boring, overused tropes like bumbling buffoons for criminals prevents the film from ever having any significant stakes. While there are some good (and awkward) laughs to be found from all the escapades, it always feels like there is something missing.
When it all comes down to it, one should look at the director. Jonathan Levine has made some quality films, but Snatched feels like it was made on auto-pilot. Every cliché you would expect is here, from slow-mo dancing to boring travel montages. With such an uninspired effort from the director, perhaps its not surprising that so much of Snatched feels wholly generic. Despite a solid effort from Schumer and Hawn, and the supporting cast and a fast-pace, it never amounts to much. This is a film to watch, occasionally laugh, and forget.