While much of Amy Schumer’s work wasn’t widely available in the UK back in 2015, the release of her big screen debut, Trainwreck, very much elevated her name in the eyes of British audiences.
And with her second feature she seems to have done the impossible and pulled the Oscar nominated Goldie Hawn out of her 15 year retirement. Just for that alone, Snatched is worth a cinema ticket. But is the return of Hawn just a gimmick, or is there comedic gold in them thar hills?
Having just been dumped by her boyfriend, the hapless Emily (Amy Schumer) is now stuck with a non-refundable holiday to Ecuador. Needing someone to accompany her, she convinces her wary mother Linda (Goldie Hawn) to come along.
Whilst at first the holiday seems to be going well, a meetup with the handsome, but mysterious James (Tom Bateman) threatens to destroy their holiday and derail their relationship.
Snatched can essentially be broken down into two fundamental sections:
- The before kidnapping part
- The after kidnapping part
Unfortunately these two clashes of plot threads do not mesh together in the way I assume the filmmakers intended.
Before the kidnapping, the film manages to weave a large amount of comedy through the relationship between mother and daughter. This clash of generations brings to mind other fun parent-child relationships, such as Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade or Freaky Friday.
But after the kidnapping, the film takes a sharp left turn into darker territory, exploring the idea of two women being tricked and trafficked into the slave trade. Making this the central hook of the overall piece is a bit of a misstep, as it’s somewhat difficult to laugh when your leading actresses are constantly under the threat of sexual exploitation. And the less said about the trope of innocent white women being taken advantage of by scary brown people, the better.
Don’t get me wrong, taking such a dark topic and mining its comedic potential is possible, as demonstrated by films such as Four Lions or In Bruges. But it requires an incredibly skilled writing hand; and writer Katie Dippold isn’t quite able to reach this peak.
That said, the actual relationship between Schumer and Hawn’s characters has plenty to enjoy. Watching the carefree Emily clash with the conservative Linda leads to a variety of hilarious jokes, with a special shout out for Christopher Meloni in his role as the utterly useless jungle explorer.
Though not quite as accomplished as Trainwreck, Snatched is still an enjoyable time at the cinema. It’s a shame that the film did not focus on the clash of personalities presented at the beginning of the film. Indeed, while dropping the kidnapping plot would have made for a very different film, there’s no doubt that it would have been a better one.
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