So, here’s the thing.
Lately, I’ve been seeing way too many good movies. Seriously. In March, I saw Logan and I thought it was great. Then, roughly a month later, I saw Free Fire and, at first, I thought it was disappointing but, as the weeks have passed, I haven’t been able to get the film out of my mind. Free Fire is definitely flawed but, if nothing else, all of the 70s-era costuming choices have stuck with me. And then last week, I saw Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2, which I really enjoyed.
However, when you’re serious about movies, you can’t just watch the good ones and pretend that the bad ones don’t exist. So, this weekend, I decided that I would devote myself to seeing some bad movies. Fortunately, it appears that every film that opened today is bad so that definitely makes my task a bit easier.
With that in mind, earlier tonight, my BFF Evelyn and I went to a showing of Snatched. Snatched is a comedy that stars Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn as a daughter and a mother who go on vacation in South America and end up getting kidnapped and then lost in the Amazon rain forest. This was one of those movies that sounded terrible from the beginning. The plot sounded terrible. The trailer looked awful. For the most part, the reviews have been lacerating and the few good comments have largely been of the “It’s not a very good movie but I don’t want to be too critical lest anyone mistake me for a member of the Schumer-hating alt-right” variety.
In other words, I wasn’t expecting much when I saw Snatched and, for the most part, the film met my expectations. It’s not so much awful as it’s just forgettable and generic. Even the film’s “raunchy” moments feel rather bland, as if the filmmakers said, “Let’s just let Amy be Amy,” and then Amy showed up on the set with a bunch of sketches that were previously judged to be not quite good enough for Inside Amy Schumer. (Actually, in all fairness and as opposed to Trainwreck, Schumer did not write Snatched. Instead, the script for Snatched was written by Kate Dippold, who also wrote the script for Ghostbusters, another film that often struggled to maintain narrative momentum from scene to scene. Though the script was undoubtedly rewritten to accommodate her comic persona, a few reviews have been too quick to exclusively blame Amy Schumer for Snatched‘s flaws.)
The film actually starts with some promise. Emily Middleton (Amy Schumer) loses her job and her boyfriend, Micheal (Randall Park), in the same day. (The break-up scene, with Michael blithely dumping her and Emily desperately trying to convince both him and herself that she actually dumped him, is hilarious and briefly gave me hope for the rest of the movie.) Emily had been planning on going on a trip to Ecuador with Michael but now she’s stuck with two, nonrefundable tickets. Unfortunately, none of Emily’s friends are willing to go on a trip with her because, it turns out, they all kind of hate Emily.
In the end, Emily asks her mother, Linda (Goldie Hawn), to go to Ecuador with her. Linda, as evidenced by a scrapbook of all the trips that she took when she was younger, used to be adventurous but, after being abandoned by her husband, she now spends almost all of her time locked away in her house. She loves cats and her children, even if her son, Jeffrey (Ike Barinholtz) is kind of creepy. Linda is reluctant to go to Ecuador. She’s heard that it’s unsafe. But those tickets are non-refundable and soon, Emily and Linda are in South America.
And really, if Snatched had just been Linda and Emily hanging out at the resort and bonding, it probably would have been a better movie. Goldie Hawn and Amy Schumer are believable as mother and daughter and their relationship had a lot of potential. Unfortunately, the plot demands that Emily and Linda end up getting kidnapped and held for ransom. They escape fairly easily (and Emily kills a few people) but then they end up wandering through the rain forest, trying to make their way to the American embassy. Along the way, they meet a few people. Christopher Meloni is occasionally funny as a wannabe explorer but the film dispatches his character in a way that feels needlessly mean-spirited. There’s also a scene with a tapeworm, which would be funny if it was an isolated bit on a sketch comedy show but which feels out-of-place here. There’s even a poorly conceived scene, in which Emily helps a group of native villagers with their daily tasks and is complimented on it by Linda. At first, I thought the scene was supposed to be a parody of condescending white liberalism but then I realized that it actually was condescending white liberalism. (You can almost hear the story meeting where an executive said, “Since some people might find our portrayal of South America to be xenophobic and borderline racist, we need to have one scene where Goldie and Amy interact with some natives without having to kill any of them. One or two minutes will do. Don’t put too much effort into it, time is money…”) Snatched never seems to know what it’s trying to say or be.
That doesn’t mean that I didn’t chuckle sometimes. As I said, the first quarter of the movie was fairly enjoyable in its slapdash way. However, once the whole kidnapping plot kicked in and the film really got started, the only time I really laughed was when Linda reprimands her daughter with a sharp, “EMILY LOUISE!” I laughed because it reminded me of all the times that my mom would stop my bratty behavior by snapping, “LISA MARIE!” It was a moment that felt like an authentic and true mother-daughter moment and the fact that it happened while Emily and Linda were lost in the rain forest and being pursued by murderers is what made me laugh. At the same time, it’s also one of the few moments in Snatched that actually felt spontaneous. For a few seconds, the film actually felt alive.
Unfortunately, it’s very much an isolated moment. Snatched is not terrible but it is awfully forgettable. If you miss it in the theaters, don’t worry. It’ll probably be mainstay on TBS for years to come.