An outrageous mother-and-daughter comedy starring one popular contemporary comedian and one Hollywood mainstay, Snatched seems perfectly suited to take advantage of its Mother’s Day opening weekend. Which is great, because aside from the virtue of being an easy choice for girls wanting a night out with their mum, you’d be hard pressed to find another reason to justify spending your box-office dollars on this painfully undercooked 90-minute indulgence. Regardless of how much you may enjoy Amy Schumer’s comedy or feel nostalgic for the Goldie Hawn of old, neither star’s personality is given a chance to shine amongst the relentlessly uninspired script.
After being dumped before a holiday she had planned with her boyfriend, Emily (Schumer) decides to instead take her divorcée mother Linda (Hawn) with her to South America. Before too long, the pair find themselves abducted and taken to be held for ransom in Columbia. As quickly as they are captured, Emily and Linda escape their kidnappers and are pursued through Columbia as they make their way to the U.S. Embassy in Bogota.
Now, when I say ‘before too long’, I’m talking about how long the characters have been on holiday before things go wrong. In terms of actual screen-time, it feels like an age before anything actually happens. I’m talking close to half the run-time. Plot is definitely not a strong suit of the film; a string of events happening to the cast without them ever really driving it. From the very first scene we open into a laughable amount of exposition as the movie tries (and fails) to get us to the action quicker. It’s an average plot to begin with, but the half-assed delivery leaves you completely indifferent to anything the characters are put through.
Obviously this is a comedy, so shitty story-telling isn’t necessarily a death sentence. The humour Snatched is trading isn’t exactly high-brow or character-driven, so you can kind of excuse writer Katie Dippold for leaving the plot a secondary concern so we can concentrate on the jokes, which there certainly are quite a lot of. But, and this is really all it comes down to, none of them are really very funny. Every frame of the film is populated with one character saying or doing something stupid, and another making a face because it’s their turn to be the straight man. Nothing flows or builds into anything bigger than a cheap gag, leaving Snatched feeling like amateur improv.
The funniest moment the movie gets is almost accidental, delivered while trying to explain why the two have to trek across the country. Which I guess is to say that the exposition in this movie gets a bigger laugh than any of the character interaction. Snatched also stumbles all over the line between poking fun at ignorant characters, and just being ignorant itself. I don’t see anyone protesting outside the theatre over it (mostly because who could give an eff), but they do spend the majority of the screen-time validating Linda’s initially comical paranoia over non-Americans, as well as repeatedly and un-ironically referring to Columbia as ‘The Sack’.
Schumer does bring plenty of confidence to the role, happily creating an unlikable, but potentially entertaining, lead. Problem is, aside from Emily being a hair too close to Schumer’s previous roles, the script she is given isn’t nearly as funny as the material she has written for herself. Here she seems content to put her feet up and let someone else do the heavy lifting, which isn’t really to anyone’s benefit. Without some decent comedic material, Emily is just another obnoxious American traveller.
Hawn’s is a much more placid character, and doesn’t grate quite as much as a result. But the best that can really be said of her is that she’s generally inoffensive. Linda is a pretty stock-standard mother character, which is largely the point in this type of fish-out-of-water comedy. But without any real moments to develop, she really is kind of just there.
The whole thing reeks of a painful indifference. Start to finish (which feels like quite a long time for a 90-minute movie), you can’t shake the feeling that nobody involved wanted anything more than to rush this through so they could move on with their lives. The best thing I can really think to say about Snatched is that if you do decide to take your mother to see it, she’ll probably be too polite to say how little she cared for it.
THE REEL SCORE: 3/10