With no friends or lovers willing to go overseas with her, Emily decides to place the 'fun' back into 'non-refundable' into her holiday to Ecuador with her mother. Unfortunately for them, 1 in 4 tourists go missing, and the statistics aren't in their favor.
1 hour, 31 minutes.
May 12, 2017.
Director: Jonathan Levine
Writers: Katie Dippold
Starring: Amy Schumer, Goldie Hawn
Composers: Chris Bacon, Theodore Shapiro
Genre: Action, Comedy
If you think you haven’t seen Goldie Hawn in a while, then you’re right! The actress hasn’t starred in a role since The Banger Sisters in 2002. Since then, Hawn has been happily biding her time, awaiting the right character and someone she would love to work alongside. With a script tweaked by Amy Schumer and her sister, Goldie Hawn’s desires have come true with Snatched.
This mother and daughter comedy is helmed by Jonathan Levine. He has previously directed films that are a little odd, treading the thin line between comedy and heartfelt symbolism, as seen with Warm Bodies and 50/50. While trailers for Snatched depict a wise-cracking comedy, will Levine also create a film that fleshes out this familial relationship–one that is rarely explored on screen? Hopefully Snatched doesn’t merely play for laughs and features a heart as well, making Goldie Hawn’s wait worthwhile.
Violence/Scary Images: There are multiple (accidental) murders and deaths, along with some gun violence. Kidnapping plays a major part of the plot.
Language/Crude Humor: All of the swear words are uttered during the course of the this movie–too many to count. God’s name is also used in vain multiple times.
Spiritual Content: None specifically.
Sexual Content: There is some nudity though there are no sex scenes. However one of the main characters is sexually active and continually pursues her desires. Some actions are sexually suggestive.
Drug/Alcohol References: Alcohol is consumed by the main characters and is a normalized behavior.
Other Negative Content: Tapeworm. That’s all I’ll say. Actually, that’s all I want to say. Yep, tapeworm. There’s a tapeworm scene.
Positive Content: This film focuses a lot on the daughter-mother relationship, which unfortunately is rather rare in Hollywood-based films. There is a generational gap: one tries to convince the other to get in touch with their younger selves, while the other advises that it’s time to grow up. Both lessons are crucial within their context.
Jonathan Levine’s Snatched is a wonderfully self-aware movie. Despite the circumstances gearing more towards the horror genre, Snatched always manages to take the lighthearted, if not hilariously violent, route. It knows it’s ridiculous, and so do the characters, with their acknowledgement of their rather cliche problems creating some lovely situational comedy. The film features a number of tropes which are playfully turned upside-down, either through a twist of events, timing, or the characters blatantly pointing them out.
This causes the audience to build an affinity with the two leads. They are both incredibly flawed people to the point where if it wasn’t for their wit, they would be highly unlikable characters. Thankfully, Emily and her mom, Linda, exist in the same world as us. They’ve seen the same horror films, they know how these stories go, and so their reactions are incredibly relatable. Everything they do can be justified, so when it all goes wrong it’s hilarious.
Unfortunately Snatched does feature a hefty amount of gross-out comedy. Particularly in the first half, there are many jokes that revolve around promiscuous sex, genitals, and nudity. Yet what the movie does well is that it continuously shifts and mixes its brand of humor. It’s not like Sausage Party where once you’ve heard one sex joke, you’ve heard them all, with the comedy getting as stale as a pack of chips that have accidentally been left out for a few hours. Instead, Snatched has a few gross-out moments, remains tongue-in-cheek with its situations, adds a little slapstick, and sometimes moves into the absurd, never letting one type of humor invade and destroy the entire story.
In many ways, Goldie Hawn and Amy Schumer play the straight man for quite a number of scenes. Snatched is a road-trip movie of sorts, where the characters need to get from the nefarious Point A to Point B, encountering a parade of wacky people along the way. Thankfully Jonathan Levine manages to keep things relatively grounded. While the supporting cast certainly have their quirks, at no point does the whole story become so unbelievable that it snaps the audience’s suspension of disbelief, unlike Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle. The pacing is nice, with no character overstaying their welcome.
As for Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn, they do make a great duo. The scenes where they are together are the best. However, Schumer plays the more prominent character, and while she has carried a film before, when she is by herself the jokes quickly nose-dive into low-brow territory, revolving around sex or her appearance. Some hit the mark, but thankfully Hawn is never too far off, allowing the style of comedy to be rounded out. It’s obvious that both actresses are having fun with this film, which is always a delight to see.
Where the film really falls flat is with its depth, though it can be forgiven considering it genre. I don’t think anyone is expecting a deep, rich, and meaningful story here. Emily and Linda do grow as characters and undergo a change, though it feels tacked on to a plot that is mostly driven for laughs. In amongst the jokes, there are a few nuggets of truth, with the film commenting on the need for one to take hold of life, to experience new things and to also take responsibility. There is also a scathing criticism concerning Instagram culture. So the movie does have a message to share, though it’s definitely light on its presentation and screen time.
One aspect that I’m glad wasn’t present was a xenophobic vibe, much like what is seen in the Taken series. The concept that the world is a dangerous place bar the United States of America is not only blissfully ignorant, but laughable for international audiences in ways not intended. While Snatched certainly won’t help tourism to Ecuador or Colombia, once again it’s very tongue-in-cheek with its approach. It’s very self-aware of the potential for xenophobia to be present, and pokes fun at it: “Colombia is a rather safe place now… except where your mother and sister are”.
When it comes to the technical elements of the film, it’s fairly standard. Filmed on Hawaii, nothing much needs to be done to sell the scenery. Some camera angles are quirky, but for the most part it’s shot and edited much like your average film. The music doesn’t stand out either. All elements are cohesive, though there’s nothing extraordinary here, which is to be expected.
Snatched is a solid comedic film, though I was disappointed that there wasn’t more depth to the mother-daughter relationship. There is one good scene that cuts to the core, though any further development is stifled by the screen time awarded to the supporting cast. Comedy is a personal beast, so this may not be humorous for you, but I certainly had several good laughs throughout. It’s an entertaining film that I would be keen to revisit, as it’s one of movies that doesn’t need your full attention. It’ll be great for a night in with friends (provided it’s their type of humor), or to have in the background while doing other tasks. Snatched doesn’t visually benefit from being aired on a large cinema screen, though watching it with the masses could make for a thoroughly enjoyable time.
+ Rare mother-daughter dynamic.
+ Not too outlandish.
- Lacks depth.
- Supporting characters distract from a richer story.