The action comedy genre is one that rarely breeds positive results. Comedy so often thrives in subtlety, driven by the characters. When you add action into the narrative, there’s an obligation for laughs to derive from overstated set pieces, absurd situations our calamitous protagonists have gotten themselves into yet again – and what transpires is contrivance, and a lot of it. Jonathan Levine’s Snatched, unfortunately, fails to buck the trend.
Amy Schumer plays Emily Middleton (no relationship to the Princess, believe me) – who is dumped by her boyfriend, leaving her alone in her already booked, forthcoming vacation to Ecuador. No friend seems to fancy the trip, so she settles for her last resort, managing to convince her mother Linda (Goldie Hawn) to do something adventurous for a change, and join her. The pair set off, and while the latter comes equipped with a dog whistle for safety measures, just in case, she may have wished she packed even more, for the pair are taken hostage by a South American crimelord called Morgado (Oscar Jaenada). He then calls their only immediate family member in the States, Jeffrey (Ike Barinholtz) to ask for a ransom fee. But the women have other ideas, and try to get themselves out of this sticky situation without assistance, which naturally only leads to a lot more trouble.
In the opening scene, one of the funniest as it happens, we see Emily talking candidly to a customer at the store she is on the brink of being fired from – and when indulging information about her holiday, she claims she doesn’t want to be like of those typical white people you get abroad – and yet, lo and behold, she becomes just that. Almost every South American native in this production is represented as something of a threat, and the fear of the unknown is overbearing. On a more positive note, the mother/daughter relationship is well-judged, with a unique means of exploring the relationship between a parent and her adult offspring – a dynamic that feels authentic, if heightened for comedic effect. In fact, it’s the more poignant, heartfelt scenes that actually provide some of the film’s better moments, which is similar to Schumer’s Trainwreck. She’s evidently a very talented actress, as these sequences prove, it’s just a shame she falls back into that same routine she’s become synonymous with, rather that thrive more so in the drama.
Naturally, when dealing with a comic performer who is inherently funny, there are many laughs to be had. The bad news is, many of the jokes misfire, with the balance regrettably tipping in the latter’s favour. But Snatched is what it is, and just what you’d expect to see when indulging in a throwaway action-comedy with Schumer and Hawn. But hey, at least Joan Cusack is funny as Barb, a former special forces agent who has cut out her tongue in fear of interrogation. Perhaps not having to speak is what makes her stand out, for it’s the dialogue within this piece which proves to be one of its most prominent shortcomings.
Snatched is released on May 19th