Starring Goldie Hawn, Amy Schumer, Joan Cusack, Wanda Sykes
Written by Katie Dippold
Directed by Jonathan Levin
Produced by Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping, Paul Feig, Jessie Henderson
One can’t help but feel bittersweet—and a bit downright sad—watching Goldie Hawn in the miserable, crude, crass, juvenile mess of a movie “Snatched”—it’s always great to see Hawn up on the screen doing her wonderful, still-cute comedic business, but lawdy mamma, one also has to continually wonder why on earth she chose this disappointing movie to appear in after a whopping fifteen-year absence from film work. Hawn is so much better than this movie—and she’s the only bright spot in an otherwise unoriginal, dumbed-down, immature romp that starts slow and disappointing, and never goes anywhere from there for the remainder of the movie. After fifteen years away from movie screens, one would think that Hawn would choose something far more intelligent, worthwhile, impressive, inventive and original, and that she would choose a film that would adequately, properly and professionally showcase Hawn’s innate comedic and dramatic skills as an actress.
Instead, we get “Snatched”—which has a few laughs here and there—even some hearty ones, actually—but a few laughs here and there, hearty or not, do not make a full film, do not make a quality film, and certainly do not make for a memorable film in this case. And a few scattered laughs here and there certainly do not make up for the inexcusable mis-use and under-use of Hawn. Everything besides Hawn in this movie is just amateurish—the script, the story, the writing, the acting, even the scattershot production design, timing, pacing, editing and camera work. There’s nothing distinctive, nothing inventive, nothing original, nothing deep or probing or insightful or especially memorable about this movie.
The movie comes across as something based on an elevator-pitch, one-line-pitch gimmick thought up in some back-lot studio meeting room: “Hey, let’s craft a crude youth-oriented movie comedy to showcase current-zeitgeist comedian Amy Schumer, and let’s get Goldie Hawn to play her mom!!” Well, as film history has proven, not every elevator, deli, lunch or boardroom gimmick one-line idea translates well up on the screen if filmmakers are only going to focus solely on that gimmick and that gimmick only, leaving every other basic filmic tenet left in the dust somewhere on that studio back-lot. Which is exactly what happens with “Snatched.”
The story attempts to tell a cliched story about Schumer’s character—a horribly, shockingly, terribly and astonishingly childish, emotionally-stunted, intellectually-stunted, intelligence-stunted, common-sense-stunted and socially-stunted moron with just about zero likeable qualities on any reasonable sympathetic level—and her repressed, shy and generally housebound wallflower of a mom—also a generally unlikeable character with little lovable qualities on any level, who is played by Hawn—and how they attempt to bond and rekindle their relationship while going on a vacation trip to Ecuador. The only thing redeeming about Hawn’s mom character is real-life Hawn herself—the only fun is simply watching Hawn, knowing that that’s Goldie Hawn. In lesser hands, the character would be completely unwatchable, and there would be absolutely nothing worth watching in the movie. As it goes, Hawn, at 71 now, if you can believe that, still has a little bit of that cutesy, sweetheart-of-the-neighborhood, golden-haired, lovable ditsy goofball quality in her, somewhere, and it’s that chance of every now and then seeing those reliable, knowing Hawn characteristics come through that presents the only enjoyable aspects of “Snatched.” However, as noted, even on this point, Hawn’s character is generally a wallflower, and boring, and even sometimes irritating, so even that characterization isn’t thought-out, crafted well or even presented intelligently enough to save or redeem the movie.
And along with this inadequate, misplaced characterization of Hawn’s mom character, Linda Middleton, is another major casting, writing and characterization problem and failture that continually drags down the film: Schumer, Schumer’s character, Schumer’s substandard acting, and Schumer’s irritating tendencies to keep her character dumbed-down, moronic, juvenile and generally so immature, it’s difficult to like the character or care about her. Schumer’s daughter character, Emily Middleton, is supposed to be a grown woman in her thirties, but Schumer plays Emily like some sort of experiment in seeing just how juvenile, childish, immature, moronic and unlikeable a grown woman in her thirties can appear in a film comedy. It’s no wonder that Hawn’s Linda spends half the movie yelling at Emily, desperately trying to get Emily out of her mid-teens intellect and act like a grown woman. And that constant bickering between Linda and Emily—a clichéd means to get the two to reconcile later in the movie, and that’s no spoiler because if anyone doesn’t see that one coming, then they need to watch 1,000 other films with the same theme in one marathon session to be re-educated on your film clichés—isn’t funny, isn’t enjoyable, and doesn’t really even result in a satisfying payoff later in the movie when mother and daughter do reconcile and be friends again. Everything in this movie is so clichéd, so predictable and so telegraphed so far ahead, the payoffs are unsatisfying.
While on their trip in Ecuador, of course Linda and Emily are kidnapped by several stock South American cliché characters—the characters seem to have jumped into this comedy straight from any clichéd, stereotyped representations of South American kidnapping villians in any Schwarzenegger—Seagal—Norris—Willis 1980s action movie—and taken hostage. Of course, Linda and Emily try to escape, aided in their comedic escape attempts by two slightly crazy Americans conveniently on vacation in Ecuador, also, and with one of those two conveniently a former “special ops” soldier. Of course! Every American tourist you run into while vacationing in Ecuador and getting kidnapped is a former special ops soldier. And how many more movies have to have anyone at all–in any context–be “former special ops” in any capacity? Are there really that many former special ops people running around the world, ready to rescue kidnapped tourists? Let’s hope so—if you went by the movies, people are kidnapped while on vacation in South America–and elsewhere–quite frequently, more frequently, that is, than in real life. If as many people were kidnapped while on vacation as they are in the movies, half the world would be missing.
The two helpful tourists are played by good sports Wanda Sykes and Joan Cusack, and Sykes and Cusack are obviously having a great time appropriately hamming it up and adding some needed comedic assistance in their scenes. But, once again, even the comedic timing and deliveries from Sykes and the hilarious pantomime from Cusack—her character had her tongue cut out, and that is really part of the movie—can’t quite save this movie, even though both are gifted comedic actors. Sykes relies on her unique voice, delivery and timing, which is great, and Cusack is, like Hawn, just inherently funny. Cusack has to be one of film’s most under-used actors—she is talented and hilarious, and she should be starring in several movies every year. She is just funny.
But even Hawn, Sykes and Cusack—and a roster of clichéd characters such as thugs, gangsters, eccentrics, inept government workers and even helpful, earnest jungle good-samaritans—cannot lift the movie up from its continual crassness, crudeness, immaturity and childishness. And the R rating doesn’t help—there was no need for this movie to be rated R, just none. In fact, if the movie’s crudeness was toned down, the unnecessary cuss words taken out, a better story and subplot and better characterization developed, there could have been some promise here somewhere, even with all of the mountain ranges of uninspired clichés. But, well, that is just not to be with “Snatched.” The movie is too clichéd, too familiar, too uninventive, and, overall, too irritating, to succeed, to be entertaining on a high level, or to be memorable.
And this is not the movie to establish Schumer as a film actress. She needs to act more mature, more smart, and act like more of a likeable, relatable human being. Her character Emily is simply the type of person you want to send off to some sort of boarding school for overly juvenile and immature adults who drastically need to join the ranks of adulthood, intelligence and generally mature humanity.
The only hope associated with the downer movie “Snatched” is that hopefully Goldie Hawn was rejuvenated working on a movie again, and this experience could possibly spur her to start acting in movies again on a regular basis—and that we won’t have to wait another fifteen years to see her in a movie again! However, if that does happen, Hawn needs to be far more careful about the scripts, characters, co-stars and movies that she chooses, and she needs to showcase her many talents in far more intelligent, mature, enjoyable—and quality—movies.