Of course it’s not as good as Trainwreck, but guess what: it’s also nothing like Trainwreck, if for no other reason than the millions of people who discovered actress/writer Amy Schumer from her 2015 debut feature now how expectations that can never be met by a new film. Oh and also, Snatched isn’t as funny, nor does it dig as deep into the lead character’s somewhat troubled life the way the Judd Apatow-directed work did.
For starters, Schumer didn’t write Snatched, which comes courtesy of writer Katie Dippold (The Heat, Ghostbusters) and director Jonathan Levine (50/50, Warm Bodies, The Night Before), both very talented comedy creators in their own right. But more specifically, shoehorning Schumer’s more natural brand of humor into a plot-heavy, kidnapping caper film doesn’t take full advantage of who she can do best, and it makes a lot of the jokes feel exceedingly forced.
Snatched follows Schumer’s Emily Middleton as she prepares for an exotic, tropical vacation with her rock star boyfriend Michael (Randall Park), whose band is on the verge of blowing up. He’d really like to take advantage of the bevy of groupies he’s expecting will throw themselves at him on the road, so he breaks up with her just days before their planned trip to Ecuador, leaving Emily with an extra ticket and no friends eager to spend that much time with her. In a move of utter desperation, he invites her uptight, divorcée mother Linda (Goldie Hawn, in her first screen role since 2002’s The Banger Sisters).
Staying in a swanky resort, the odd-couple banter and argue about sunscreen, drinking too much, and the pros and cons of accepting drinks from strange men at the hotel bar (hint: Emily is pro). Emily meets a real looker in James (Tom Bateman of “Jekyll & Hyde”), a British “adventurer,” who invites her on driving trips and to parties hidden away in the jungle. She has a blast, but can’t close the deal because she’s staying with her mother. Naturally, this all leads to the kidnapping of Emily and Linda for a ransom they don’t have, and chaos, antics and shenanigans ensue. You know the drill, and the filmmakers know to know the drill, but they put us through the paces anyway of escape, being recaptured, escape again until the 90 minutes is done. It’s in no way agonizing, but it’s also fairly lazy comedy, although I’ll give Hawn credit for at least knowing when to reel it in and knowing the value of playing it straight as a means of generating laughs.
Some of the funniest material comes from the supporting players, including Ike Barinholtz as Emily’s brother Jeffrey, still living with his “Mama” and very set in his aggressively nerdy ways, especially in the company of State Department drone Morgan Russell (Bashir Salahuddin). Then there’s fellow hotel guests played by Wanda Sykes and Joan Cusack (in a hilarious, non-speaking role), as a possible lesbian couple who might also be just close friends. Cusack’s Barb is a former special ops commando, which results in some incredible action sequences courtesy of her lightning-fast reflexes. And then there’s Christopher Meloni in a role I can only describe as his character from Wet Hot American Summer, but with a more modern flare.
A great deal of Snatched actually works, and anyone dismissing the entire film out of hand likely walked in ready to be let down. But what severely undercuts some of the film’s best moments are those that feature Schumer as ditzy. As much as I enjoy her as a performer, seeing Amy Schumer play helpless and clueless doesn’t work, not ever a little. I consider her an actor of some substance, but even she can’t make us believe she’s dumb. But Snatched is funnier more often than it’s not; I just wish it had been smarter on top of that.
Check out the potentially NSFW red band trailer below.