The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan

"SNATCHED"

Snatched

Hard as it is to believe, Goldie Hawn has not made a movie in fifteen years. Her last appearance onscreen was in the 2002 comedy The Banger Sisters. After that, she went into retirement. Now, Hawn reemerges for Snatched, and it's clear that she hasn't lost an ounce of her comic timing. Seeing her in a film again is a real treat. It's just too bad that this particular film really isn't up to her level.

Amy Schumer plays Emily Middleton, an irresponsible young woman who gets dumped by her boyfriend just as they are about to leave for a non-refundable vacation to Ecuador. In sudden need of a travel companion, she invites her uptight mother Linda (Hawn) to join her. Things don't start off well. Emily wants to party it up, while Linda wants to stay in the hotel room and avoid the sun.

Early scenes of Snatched are very funny, in the honest, open way that Schumer's Trainwreck was. We start to see some of the issues between the two main characters the way that Linda is too judgmental about her daughter's life, and the way Emily avoids maturity almost as an act of defiance. There's a nice, relatable parent/adult-child vibe here. We settle in, waiting for the movie to show us how the relationship between them will evolve.

Of course, there has to be some kind of conflict that helps draw them close. In this case, Emily and Linda are abducted by a local crime boss named Morgado (Oscar Jaenada) looking to score a ransom. Faced with grave danger, they need to find a way to escape his clutches. Luckily, several people are working to rescue them: Emily's agoraphobic brother (Ike Barinholtz) and two women they met at the resort (Wanda Sykes and Joan Cusack), the latter of whom is a tongue-less former Special Ops agent.

Writer Katie Dippold (The Heat, Ghostbusters) tries to meld the family material with the action-comedy aspects of the kidnapping plot. The halves don't mesh very well. The abduction and escape scenes are overly jokey, with no real sense that the characters are in peril. No sooner do Emily and Linda get into trouble than some quick, easy solution comes along. Nothing about it is exciting, so it's not credible that the women have been through some intense experience that makes them appreciate each other more. It's perfectly okay to give such scenes a comic touch, provided that there's still some grounding in reality.

Mother/daughter moments, meanwhile, are equally thin. The manner in which both women change feels forced. Scenes of Emily comically trying to fight off bad guys or, in what may be the worst movie sequence so far in 2017, dealing with a tapeworm keep getting in the way of the human element. Putting Schumer and Hawn in a straightforward comedy about two people attempting to fix a dysfunctional relationship likely would have been much more satisfying than plopping them into a half-baked abduction storyline.

Both actresses are good with material that doesn't go as deep as it should. There's a game cast of supporting actors, too. They're charged with playing eccentric side characters. Some of them work. Cusack is hilarious as the ex-agent who lets a scowl do her talking, as is Bashir Salahuddin as the world's most efficient and least helpful State Department employee. Others are never explored to their fullest potential, which makes them a drain on the story. Christopher Meloni, for example, plays an adventurer who's not entirely what he seems. The joke could be funny, were he given more to do than simply serve as a cheap gag.

All this is a shame, because when Snatched lands a joke, which it does from time to time, it garners big laughs. The movie just isn't consistently funny, despite some bright spots. Schumer and Hawn make a terrific combo. Hopefully they'll work together again on a project that understands they, not some silly high concept plot, are the true source of comedy magic.

( out of four)


Snatched is rated R for crude sexual content, brief nudity, and language throughout. The running time is 1 hour and 30 minutes.


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