By Jared Huizenga – Contributing Writer
The last couple of years haven’t been exactly kind to Amy Schumer’s career.
After three seasons of her critically acclaimed “Inside Amy Schumer” and a major critical and commercial success with 2015’s “Trainwreck,” her career appeared meteoric. Then came 2016. First was a sharp decline in the ratings and reviews for her TV show. Then was a Netflix special that was so reviled by viewers (including those of us who consider ourselves fans) that the streaming service changes its rating system. And now, her less-than-triumphant return to the big screen in “Snatched.”
In “Snatched,” Schumer plays Emily – a 30-something-year-old whose life is lacking meaning and direction. Rather than growing up she prefers to float aimlessly – and drunkenly – through life.
On the eve of an impromptu vacation to Ecuador, Emily finds herself on the wrong side of a breakup and stuck with non-refundable tickets and nobody to join her. That is, however, until she convinces her overprotective mother, Linda (Goldie Hawn) to accompany her.
Things start off great – the sun is out; the drinks are flowing; the duo strikes up an unlikely friendship with fellow vacationers Ruth (Wanda Sykes) and Barb (Joan Cusak); and Emily meets the handsome and adventurous James (Tom Bateman), who sweeps her off her feet.
Things quickly take a turn when Emily and Linda are kidnapped from outside their resort and held for ransom. Making matters worse is that their only help comes via Emily’s agoraphobic brother, Jeffrey (Ike Barinholtz), who they left at home.
The main problem with “Snatched” seems to stem from its writing, courtesy of Katie Dippold, who also brought us “The Heat” and last summer’s “Ghostbusters.”
The premise of the story isn’t the issue. Sure it’s a bit like “Taken” meets “Without a Paddle,” but given the right dialogue and jokes, it could’ve worked. Unfortunately neither of those were present and it didn’t. The jokes were stale and raunchy for no reason other than providing some level of shock. I’m a big fan of raunchy if it’s done correctly, but this felt like any time there was a lull they filled it with an out-of-place joke. There were some laughs to be had, but they were few and far between.
Speaking of laughs, surprisingly very few of them were delivered by Schumer. In fact, the only thing that happened less frequently than a Schumer-delivered joke that hit were changes in facial expressions from Hawn. For someone making her “triumphant” return to film, the veteran actress really seemed to phone it in.
No, the laughs here came courtesy of the supporting cast – namely Sykes, Barinholtz and Cusak. Anyone who’s seen “Shameless” and “Neighbors” won’t be surprised to find humor from the latter two, but I can honestly say I never expected to type the following sentence: “the best comedic performance in this movie comes from Wanda Sykes.” I’ve never been a big fan, but here her timing was spot-on, the delivery (both spoken and unspoken) were superb … I was very pleasantly surprised by that.
I still hold out hope that Schumer will regain the magic that made her early stand-up, TV and film work entertaining – she’s too funny to continue churning out such bad work. Unfortunately, “Snatched” is not the vehicle that’s going to right the ship.
Long story short, “Snatched” is to film what Schumer’s character in “Trainwreck” was to relationships – painful, toxic and to be avoided at all costs.
★ of ★★★★★
Jared Huizenga is a freelance movie critic. Follow his work at www.facebook.com/JaredMovies.