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Dustin Putman

Snatched  (2017)
2½ Stars
Directed by Jonathan Levine.
Cast: Amy Schumer, Goldie Hawn, Ike Barinholtz, Tom Bateman, Wanda Sykes, Joan Cusack, Óscar Jaenada, Randall Park, Kim Caramele, Katie Dippold.
2017 – 91 minutes
Rated: Rated R (for crude sexual content, brief nudity, and language throughout).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman for, May 10, 2017.
"Snatched" is a 1980s-inspired action-comedy with a ribald sense of humor, plenty of ridiculousness, and a sweet if predictably routed parent/child relationship at its center. Amy Schumer (who penned her breakthrough starring debut, 2015's "Trainwreck") is not credited as screenwriter here—that honor goes to Katie Dippold (2016's "Ghostbusters")—but the comedian's self-deprecating, perceptively bawdy sensibilities are all over its DNA makeup. She and co-star Goldie Hawn (2002's "The Banger Sisters"), making a welcome return to acting for the first time in an amazing fifteen years, are the number-one reasons to see the film. They keep the well-earned laughs coming even as the familiar machinations of the plot begin to creak.

Fired from her retail job and dumped by boyfriend Michael (Randall Park) on the same day, Emily Middleton (Amy Schumer) finds herself at a crossroads in her life. A directionless young woman in her thirties stuck with two non-refundable tickets to an exotic Ecuadorean getaway, she convinces her long-divorced, long-single mom Linda (Goldie Hawn) to accompany her on the vacation. The mother/daughter pair have different ideas about fun; Emily wants to live it up, painting a positive, carefree illusion on social media, and Linda, who has seen far too many news reports about people going missing in South America, is adamant about lounging at the resort with a paperback in hand. When Linda reluctantly accompanies Emily on a day trip with a handsome guy she has met, James (Tom Bateman), her worst fear suddenly comes true. Abducted from James' vehicle, the two narrowly escape their captors but find themselves lost and hunted in Southern Colombia. Their only hope of rescue: surviving long enough to make their way through the Amazon to the U.S Consulate in Bogotá.

Not every movie can be as unmistakably personal as the one Amy Schumer semi-autobiographically based on her own life, "Trainwreck," and such is the case with her big-screen follow-up. "Snatched" is lighter, goofier, and its ploys for interpersonal drama more calculated. It feels like a long-lost '80s cable mainstay that happens to have been technologically accurate in its presaged depiction of 2017. It's a little too choppy and obvious to be a great film, but it is an entertaining one. Director Jonathan Levine (2013's "Warm Bodies") seems to have taken a step back to let his actors do their thing, and the results are better—and funnier—for it.

Amy Schumer is an onscreen force, willing to do anything necessary to land a joke or earn a guffaw. She succeeds time and again, making her character of Emily sympathetic in spite of her adrift nature and ego-centric flaws. As enjoyable as Schumer is to watch, her comparative inexperience sometimes shows next to a seasoned veteran like Goldie Hawn, a delight as buttoned-up mother Linda. The gravitas Hawn effortlessly brings to her role and her imperfect but unconditionally loving bond with her daughter is something Schumer stumbles with on occasion. As raw and natural as Schumer was in her more emotional scenes in "Trainwreck," she is less consistent and convincing this time (perhaps because she hasn't actually lived through an abduction in a foreign land). Even so, there is no denying the crackerjack chemistry she and Hawn share, the two clearly having a grand time navigating their way through a plot ready-made for a Hollywood logline. The colorful supporting cast includes Christopher Meloni (2014's "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For") as Roger, an American ally searching for adventure with nothing to lose; Ike Barinholtz (2015's "Sisters") as Emily's agoraphobic older brother Jeffrey; and Wanda Sykes (2016's "Bad Moms") and Joan Cusack (2015's "The End of the Tour"), deliciously amusing as sleuth-ready vacationing duo Ruth and Barb.

Effectively gritty if not one-hundred percent racially sensitive, "Snatched" pays no mind to political correctness but also rarely takes itself too seriously. As the body count rises and even one heroic figure suddenly meets a hilariously awful end, the picture avoids mean-spiritedness with the purely sunny nature of its performers and the thriller premise in which they've hilariously found themselves. Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn are impossible to dislike, zinging right along during the wild proceedings. Gabfests involving Emily's stunted maturation and Linda's need to get back on the dating horse are decidedly awkward in the midst of running for their lives, but so it goes with this kind of go-for-broke, tapeworm-haunting farce. By the time Billy Idol's '80s pop gem "Dancing with Myself" invades the soundtrack in the film's affirming final moments, it proves too infectious to resist. "Snatched" is a spirited early-summer trifle, not terribly deep but comically inspired where it counts.
© 2017 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman

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