We’ve been in a big screen comedy drought for a while now. This year, we’ve really only had two major comedy releases: CHiPs and Free Fire. There have been some quirkier and darker smaller films that also included some laughs (like Colossal), but by and large, the last six months have been dominated by movies playing it straight.
So maybe it was just my strong desire to see something where I could just forget my adult responsibilities for 90 minutes and laugh my ass off, but I’m willing to forgive Snatched for its structural and tonal shortcomings – and some really bad CGI – because it provided laughs from start to finish.
In its opening scene, the film does a great job conveying how desperate Amy Schumer’s Emily is. She’s obsessed with validation from her boyfriend, family, online friends and even total strangers. She’s also different enough from Schumer’s character in Trainwreck, so it doesn’t feel like that character was just moved to this story.
After her boyfriend (Randall Park) breaks up with her, Emily persuades her overly cautious, cat-obsessed mother Linda (Goldie Hawn, in her first film role in 15 years) to join her on a trip to Ecuador. Because Emily is both vulnerable and oblivious, she doesn’t hesitate when a strapping tourist (Tom Bateman) picks her up at a bar and whisks her away from the safety of their luxury resort.
Of course Emily and Linda end up abducted by drug lords hoping for a ransom. Unfortunately for the violent kidnappers, Emily and Linda are slightly more resourceful than they seem. But unfortunately for our heroines, they only have Emily’s weirdo brother Jeffrey (Ike Barinholtz, crushing it) back home to try to figure out a rescue mission.
But Snatched really has no idea how it wants to resolve the scenario. We know that Emily and Linda will eventually be rescued, but it’s a total mess how they get there. There’s no real timeline or urgency to what’s going on. Have they been gone three days? A week? A month? They meet plenty of wacky characters along the way, with Christopher Meloni’s wannabe explorer the funniest, but there are just as many times when the story grinds to a halt so the duo can have a heart-to-heart or question the backwards traditions of a local village.
But then there’s Bashir Salahuddin, making the leap from TV, as a the U.S. State Department official. His deadpan escalates into full-on rage after having to deal with Jeffrey. Even though they have very few scenes together, their conversations are some of the funniest parts of the whole movie.
There are times when the film is confident enough in the variety and breadth of its jokes that it could make for a frequent rewatch. Then there are times when it’s so ramshackle that it seems like the whole thing is going to fall apart. But because even in its weakest moments it’s still uproarious, I’ll let it slide. There won’t be that many opportunities to laugh in this remake- and sequel-heavy summer, so snatch this one while you can.