Film Review: Snatched (dir by Jonathan Levine)


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.

Playing Catch-Up With 6 Mini-Reviews: Amy, Gloria, Pitch Perfect 2, Sisters, Spy, Trainwreck


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Amy (dir by Asif Kapadia)

Amy opens with brilliant and, in its way, heartbreaking footage of a 14 year-old Amy Winehouse and a friend singing Happy Birthday at a party.  Even though she’s singing deliberately off-key and going over-the-top (as we all tend to do when we sing Happy Birthday), you can tell that Amy was a star from the beginning.  She’s obviously enjoying performing and being the center of attention and, try as you might, it’s impossible not to contrast the joy of her Happy Birthday with the sadness of her later life.

A star whose music touched millions (including me), Amy Winehouse was ultimately betrayed by a world that both wanted to take advantage of her talent and to revel in her subsequent notoriety.  It’s often said the Amy was self-destructive but, if anything, the world conspired to destroy her.  By focusing on footage of Amy both in public and private and eschewing the usual “talking head” format of most documentaries, Amy pays tribute to both Amy Winehouse and reminds us of what a great talent we all lost in 2011.

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Gloria (dir by Christian Keller)

The Mexican film Gloria is a musical biopic of Gloria Trevi (played by Sofia Espinosa), a singer whose subversive songs and sexual image made her a superstar in Latin America and challenged the conventional morality of Catholic-dominated establishment.  Her manager and lover was the controversial Sergio Andrade (Marco Perez).  The movie follows Gloria from her first audition for the manipulative Sergio to her arrest (along with Sergio) on charges of corrupting minors.  It’s an interesting and still controversial story and Gloria tells it well, with Espinosa and Perez both giving excellent performances.

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Pitch Perfect 2 (dir by Elizabeth Banks)

The Bellas are back!  As I think I’ve mentioned a few times on this site, I really loved the first Pitch Perfect.  In fact, I loved it so much that I was a bit concerned about the sequel.  After all, sequels are never as good as the original and I was dreading the idea of the legacy of the first film being tarnished.

But the sequel actually works pretty well.  It’s a bit more cartoonish than the first film.  After three years at reigning ICCA champions, the Bellas are expelled from competition after Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) accidentally flashes the President.  The only way for the Bellas to get the suspension lifted is to win the World Championship of A Capella.  The plot, to be honest, really isn’t that important.  You’re watching the film for the music and the interplay of the Bellas and, on those two counts, the film totally delivers.

It should be noted that Elizabeth Banks had a great 2015.  Not only did she give a great performance in Love & Mercy but she also made a respectable feature directing debut with Pitch Perfect 2.

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Sisters (dir by Jason Moore)

It’s interesting how opinions can change.  For the longest time, I really liked Tina Fey and I thought that Amy Poehler was kind of overrated.  But, over the past two years, I’ve changed my opinion.  Now, I like Amy Poehler and Tina Fey kind of gets on my nerves.  The best way that I can explain it is to say that Tina Fey just seems like the type who would judge me for wearing a short skirt and that would get old quickly, seeing as how I happen to like showing off my legs.

Anyway, in Sisters, Tina and Amy play sisters!  (Shocking, I know.)  Amy is the responsible one who has just gotten a divorce and who wants to make everyone’s life better.  Tina is the irresponsible one who refuses to accept that she’s no longer a teenager.  When their parents announce that they’re selling the house where they grew up, Amy and Tina decide to throw one last party.  Complications ensue.

I actually had two very different reactions to Sisters.  On the one hand, as a self-declared film critic, it was easy for me to spot the obvious flaw with Sisters.  Tina and Amy should have switched roles because Tina Fey is simply not believable as someone who lives to have fun.  Sometimes, it’s smart to cast against type but it really doesn’t work here.

However, as the youngest of four sisters, there was a lot of Sisters that I related to.  I saw Sisters with my sister, the Dazzling Erin, and even if the film did not work overall, there were still a lot of little scenes that made us smile and go, “That’s just like us.”  In fact, I think they should remake Sisters and they should let me and Erin star in it.

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Spy (dir by Paul Feig)

There were a lot of very good spy films released in 2015 and SPECTRE was not one of them.  In fact, the more I think about it, the more disappointed I am with the latest Bond film.  It’s not so much that SPECTRE was terrible as there just wasn’t anything particular memorable about it.  When we watch a film about secret agents saving the world, we expect at least a few memorable lines and performances.

Now, if you want to see a memorable spy movie, I suggest seeing Spy.  Not only is Spy one of the funniest movies of the year, it’s also a pretty good espionage film.  Director Paul Feig manages to strike the perfect balance between humor and action.  One of the joys of seeing CIA employee Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) finally get to enter the field and do spy stuff is the fact that there are real stakes involved.  Susan is not only saving the world but, in the film’s best scenes, she’s having a lot of fun doing it and, for that matter, McCarthy is obviously having a lot of fun playing Susan and those of us in the audience are having a lot of fun watching as well.

Spy also features Jason Statham as a more traditional action hero.  Statham is hilarious as he sends up his own macho image.  Seriously, who would have guessed that he could such a funny actor?  Here’s hoping that he, McCarthy, and Feig will all return for the inevitable sequel.

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Trainwreck (dir by Judd Apatow)

There’s a lot of great things that can be said about Trainwreck.  Not only was it the funniest film of 2015 but it also announced to the world that Amy Schumer’s a star.  It was a romantic comedy for the 21st Century, one that defied all of the conventional BS about what has to happen in a romcom.  This a film for all of us because, let’s just be honest here, we’ve all been a trainwreck at some point in our life.

But for me, the heart of the film was truly to be found in the relationship between Amy and her younger sister, Kim (Brie Larson).  Whether fighting over what to do with their irresponsible father (Colin Quinn) or insulting each other’s life choices, their relationship is the strongest part of the film.  If Brie Larson wasn’t already guaranteed an Oscar nomination for Room, I’d demand that she get one for Trainwreck.  For that matter, Amy Schumer deserves one as well.

Seriously, it’s about time the trainwrecks of the world had a film that we could truly call our own.

Trailer: The Interview (Red Band)


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I know this is one film that Lisa Marie is going to see the moment it arrives. Why do I say that?

The answer to that is two words: James and Franco.

This red band trailer pretty much gives a basic layout of how raunchy this comedy will be and continue the bromance that is James Franco and Seth Rogen.

Also, it’s about two celebrity journalists hired by the CIA to assassinate North Korea’s Dear Leader, Kim Jong-un.

The Interview is set for that release date where all wholesome family holiday films get to premiere on, December 25, 2014.