Emily Middleton (Amy Schumer) is having a bad day. She loses her job and has a break up. Her holiday to Ecuador (booked and non-refundable) is the only bright spot in her life. She finds it difficult to find a friend with the free time to accompany her and ends up going with her judgemental mother played by Goldie Hawn. Linda is a homebody who loves her cats and fears the outside world, so this trip puts her right outside of her comfort zone.
Their destination is a hotel resort. Emily meets a handsome English stranger (Tom Bateman) and is having fun, but this ends abruptly when she and Linda are kidnapped by a local gangster called Morgado (Oscar Jaenada). Back in the US, Emily’s brother Jeffrey (Ike Barinholtz) is contacted and told his sister and mother will be killed if he doesn’t pay a large ransom. Meanwhile Emily and Linda are frantically trying to find a way out of their predicament, but this doesn’t stop them airing their grievances against each other.
SNATCHED is Schumer’s second lead role in a feature after TRAINWRECK. She wrote her debut film, and although not autobiographical, it had strong elements of Schumer’s life running through it. In this new film, Schumer streamlines the character of the selfish and directionless young woman who needs to grow up. She is great at playing self-centred obliviousness and she scores a lot of laughs with the various ways her character unerringly seeks the advantage in her normal social interactions. Outside of an urban setting, Emily crumbles. Her city instincts translate poorly to the jungle.
Emily’s life is a series of challenges that she refuses to plan for. This appears to be a reaction to the overly-structured life of her mother. On first being invited to Ecuador, Linda says, “Everyone knows you need two years to prepare for a vacation.” Emily blames Linda for the way brother Jeffrey has turned out. He is middle-aged, still lives with Linda in the family home and won’t venture outside because of his agoraphobia.
Mother and daughter end up in the jungle fighting their way to safety. They attempt several times to enlist help, but their would-be rescuers are a sorry bunch of individuals with their own problems to sort out. This gallery of incompetents includes Christopher Meloni as a misguided adventurer, Arturo Castro as a humanitarian doctor, Al Madrigal as a newbie US Embassy official; Wanda Sykes and Joan Cusack are Ruth and Barb, a couple whom Ruth insists on describing as platonic; all bring solid laughs to the table.
Goldie Hawn hasn’t been in a movie since THE BANGER SISTERS (2002) and it is good to see her back on the big screen. To have her cast against type may not have been the filmmakers’ greatest idea. Hawn brings off playing the scold, but I missed her essential warm and off-beat screen persona.
Director Jonathan Levine (WARM BODIES, THE WHACKNESS) and writer Katie Dippold (GHOSTBUSTERS, THE HEAT) have concocted a slickly efficient comic vehicle for their stars. The ingredients have been mixed and measured with a professional eye: plenty of good one-liners, some gross-out humour, a pinch of action, much inter-generational squabbling and a sprinkling of heart-felt moments. The preview audience I saw this with laughed hard. I found this reliably funny, but in no way surprising. 97 minutes. (7/10)