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SNATCHED is an Amusing, Surprisingly Sweet Bit of Nonsense (Review)

SNATCHED is an Amusing, Surprisingly Sweet Bit of Nonsense (Review)

It’s safe to say that my lifelong affection for Goldie Hawn and few years’ worth of the like for Amy Schumer were pivotal in getting me through Snatched with a smile. Not so much an exhibition of either performer’s greatest talents, but rather my own inclination to like each of them, no matter what they might be doing. Call it a cheat or a crutch, but it can’t be easy for an actor to maintain this caliber of charisma, nor for a movie to bottle and deliver it as well as Snatched does.

Even in absence of an especially funny or clever script, what Snatched manages to mine from the watchability of Hawn and Schumer borders on remarkable. Each is saddled with a sort of generational archetype—Schumer, as aimless Emily Middleton, is dippy, obnoxious, social media-obsessed, and light on the foresight. Hawn plays her mother Linda, a divorcée whose panic meter is running overtime and who spends the lot of her time doting on her cats, and phoning her seldom responsive daughter.

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Familiar outlines aside, the Middleton women don’t feel boring—the inherent humanity packed into Schumer and Hawn’s natural screen presence instead renders them earnest and relatable. And though soon enough their ordinary lives give way to a particularly brutal outburst of screwball comedy mayhem, this relatability sticks all the way through.

The hijinks promised by Snatched’s plot, which sees the pair kidnapped while on a mother-daughter trip to South America, isn’t quite funny enough on its own accord. Though especially wacky supporting parts, including a subplot involving Emily’s brother Jeffrey (Ike Barinholtz) and an increasingly frustrated state department agent named (Bashir Salahuddin), likewise scattered cameos from a goofball Christopher Meloni, Wanda Sykes, and an entirely silent Joan Cusack—her facial contortions are a gift from the beyond—offer the occasional hearty laugh, the Middletons’ adventure plays out without quite enough wit or imagination. Many of the bigger gags feel yanked from the studio comedy warehouse, while the side banter isn’t quite as biting as Schumer fans may be hoping for.

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In lieu of ample humor, Snatched finds its footing on more surprising grounds: emotionality, thanks in no small part to the charms of Hawn and Schumer, but also to an unexpectedly touching array of bits peppered throughout Katie Dippold‘s screenplay. The Middletons’ relationship yields more than might be suggested by the broad and uncouth premise of Snatched, and just about makes up for some of its less inspired aspects.

That said, one thing that none of Snatched‘s smoother edges would be able to make up for is its insensitivity (at best) in dealing with South American culture and people. There’s a lot to take issue with in Snatched—on the one hand, the film’s entire Latinx cast can be divided into two groups: ruthless criminals and whimsical rural folk; on the other, despite the fact that a few throwaway lines suggest that indulgent American tourists like the Middletons may be more of a pox on their vacation destination than they realized, the movie is hardly willing to contend with this idea properly.

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To sum up, Snatched isn’t exactly without its rough patches. As a movie depicting the worlds of Ecuador and Colombia, it’s certainly doing no noble work. As a screwball adventure comedy, it is indeed on the lighter side. But as a showcase of the screen presences of Goldie Hawn and Amy Schumer, it has much of what you expect it offer. And as a story about a mother and a daughter reconnecting, it has more.

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Images: 20th Century Fox

Michael Arbeiter is the East Coast Editor for Nerdist. Find Michael on Twitter @micarbeiter.

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