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Snatched ••1/2

Starring: Amy Schumer, Goldie Hawn, Kim Caramele
Director: Jonathan Levine
Screenplay: Katie Dippold
Action/Comedy, Rated: R
Running Time: 90 minutes
Release Date: May 12, 2017


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It looks like Amy Schumer snatched Goldie Hawn out of retirement.

(Dr. Scott Allison, Professor of Psychology, University of Richmond)

It also looks like this movie snatched two hours of my life that I’ll never get back. Let’s recap.

Emily Middleton (Amy Schumer) is working in a retail fashion store when she’s fired. Then her musician boyfriend dumps her. But she’s got non-refundable tickets to South America. So, she invites her mother, reclusive Linda Middleton (Goldie Hawn) to come along. They arrive to a paradise-like setting where Emily meets handsome local man James (Tom Bateman). They enjoy the day together and party all night long. James promises to pick Emily up the next morning.

Sure enough, James picks up Emily, who also brings her mom. James takes them on the scenic route through Ecuador, meaning they drive through some scary looking remote towns. A van smashes into James’ car deliberately and the two women are kidnapped. The kidnappers demand a ransom from Emily’s brother Jeffrey (Ike Barinholtz) who is hopelessly agoraphobic.

Scott, Snatched is the latest film from popular comedian Amy Schumer. It’s a great follow-up to her 2015 debut Trainwreck. We’ve reviewed a number of horror and comedy films in the last few weeks and commiserated on the fact that very often story gives way to shock effect. But Schumer understands story structure and her films deliver a story and comedy in one fell swoop.

Emily is a likable yet flawed young woman who really can’t get out of her own way. She’s bawdy and sassy and very funny. She has a missing inner quality in that she lacks empathy. She is very self-centered which is obvious when she’s stuck with vacation tickets and can’t get anyone to go with her. So, she guilt-trips her mother to go with her. Not because her mother needs a vacation, but because Emily doesn’t want to go alone.

As the story unfolds, we witness both mother and daughter bonding during their captivity and escape. We see two strong female characters who stand up for themselves and ultimately rescue each other. While Emily is not a great role model at the beginning of the film, she becomes the hero we hope she can be by putting her mother ahead of herself. It’s a great transformative hero’s journey – which is funny at the same time.

Greg, I’m sorry that I don’t share your enthusiasm for this film. Snatched is a lightweight comedy that squanders the talents of Amy Schumer and reminds us why Goldie Hawn is rarely seen in the movies. Any older woman actor could have played Hawn’s character, but only Schumer could make her character work. Schumer specializes in playing quirky, pathetic, yet likable characters. Emily is not simply a lovable loser; she’s a funny lovable loser who almost makes Snatched worth watching.

The film suffers from a painfully predictable plot that could have been redeemed had there been some laugh-out-loud moments. But there are none. I’ll give Snatched credit for portraying several significant transformations. As a result of her ordeal, Emily does become less selfish. Linda appears to re-discover her inner free spirit. And Jeffrey conquers his agoraphobia. The presence of these transformations proves that they are a necessary but not a sufficient ingredient of a good movie. In a quality movie, there is an interesting story, clever writing, or stellar acting (sorry, Goldie). Snatched Is sadly lacking those qualities.

This is a classic buddy-hero story with Emily and Linda at opposite ends of the adventure spectrum. Emily learns that in her younger days, her mother was quite the risk-taker – living on the edge and having fun. Emily feels her mother needs to recapture that free spirit. And Linda feels that Emily needs to get more centered, more practical. So, in classic buddy-hero fashion, the two work on each other and draw to a center. They normalize each other. Linda becomes more adventuresome, and Emily becomes more … adult.

And that is also where the transformations take place. We see an emotional transformation for both Emily and Linda. Brother Jeffrey also overcomes his agoraphobia when he realizes his mother and sister are in danger. He must leave the house and face the outside world. This is a story of how sometimes families get stuck in a rut and need a big event to shake things up. The ‘snatching’ of Emily and Linda is the event that shakes up everyone’s world and causes them all to reevaluate their lives.

Snatched is a sad bump in the road in Amy Schumer’s meteoric career, an aberration of underachievement from someone who has proven star power. This film is a throwaway comedy with no real redeeming value. The jokes are few and far between and there isn’t much at all to commend the predictable plot and substandard acting from Goldie Hawn. The most I can muster is a rating of 2 Reels out of 5, and that even feels generous.

As you point out, Greg, this is a buddy hero story with one buddy who is funny (Emily) and the other who is the film’s weak link (Linda). There is a clear hero’s journey, with our two heroes thrown into the hands of criminals and forced to acquire the resourcefulness necessary to extricate themselves. There are no surprises, only pointless predictability. But there is an identifiable hero’s journey and so I’ll give our heroes 3 Hero points out of 5.

The transformations are so obvious they are sledgehammered into the film, proving that a good movie needs a lot more than significant character transformation. Enough has been said on this topic and about this disappointing film. I award our heroes 3 transformation Deltas out of 5.

Movie: Transformation: Heroes:

I thought Snatched was another notch in Amy Schumer’s comedy belt. It was a funny premise delivered well. Emily and Linda are not your standard “damsels in distress.” They take control and ultimately exact revenge on the villains. I laughed out loud and happily award 3 out of 5 Reels.

These are standard buddy heroes. Similar to the Odd Couple from the sixties, one is out of control and the other is a control freak. Between them they learn to work together and save the day. I give them a standard 3 out of 5 Heroes.

And the transformations are telegraphed from the beginning – I’ll give you that, Scott. We know Emily is going to become selfless. We know Linda is going to loosen up. And we aren’t the least bit surprised when Jeffrey calls in the cavalry. I give this standard transformation 3 Deltas out of 5.

Movie: Transformation: Heroes:

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