Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn co-star as, respectively, Emily and Linda Middleton. Dumped by her boyfriend right before a non-refundable trip to Ecuador, Emily is desperate to find a plus-one so she doesn’t have to travel alone. Her cat-loving, overprotective mom suddenly becomes Emily’s go-to choice after Emily discovers a photo album of her mom when she was younger, all wild-child-y and fun. (How Emily has managed to live 30+ years without ever seeing these photos of her mother is a mystery the filmmakers choose to leave unsolved.) Reluctant at first, Linda agrees to go along, if for no other reason than to ensure her daughter behaves responsibly, wears enough sunscreen and doesn’t get caught up in any mischief.
Unfortunately for them both, a charming and seductive fellow traveler named James (Tom Bateman) sweeps Emily off her feet... and promptly gets Emily and Linda kidnapped by... a drug lord? A human trafficker? It’s never really clear. He’s just a bad dude. But the situation forces mother and daughter to (try to) put their differences aside in order to survive.
But the whole film feels poorly constructed and sloppy, and is fairly unfunny from start to finish. The whole kidnapping fiasco makes no sense and it’s never clear why these women were taken or held hostage. Both Schumer and Hawn also seem to be phoning it in – especially the latter, whose much-heralded return to the big screen after 20 (!) years feels flat, unconvincing and stale. There’s no spark between this pair, and the rhythm of the humor is way too slow. Part of the blame lies with the screenplay, which often defaults to obvious jokes, and the rest of it lies with director Jonathan Levine, whose past work (including Warm Bodies and 50/50) doesn’t really scream “rat-a-tat laughs!” This film is in dire need of the kind of chemistry shared by, say, Melissa McCarthy and Rose Byrne in Spy, where the jabs and asides were sharp and strong and fast and furious. Here, Emily and Linda’s bickering just seems bland and forced rather than funny.
Thankfully, there are a few supporting players who manage to save this otherwise underwhelming outing. Ike Barinholtz, as Emily’s agoraphobic brother, and Bashir Salahuddin, as the apathetic U.S. State Department official with whom he argues, are by far the funniest things in the movie. And Wanda Sykes and Christopher Meloni deliver some laughs in supporting turns as a couple of the colorful characters the Middletons encounter. Joan Cusack, on the other hand, is completely underused and pointless as Sykes’ mute former-Special-Ops agent “platonic friend.”
With its Mother’s Day release and “ladies’ night at the movies!” marketing, Snatched is clearly hoping to cash in with female audiences. But as the latest entry into the grrrrl-power comedy genre, it’s pretty disappointing. And one important caveat if your mom sees the trailer and thinks it looks like a fun movie to check out: this is an Amy Schumer film, which means some very raunchy, R-rated dialogue. So, proceed with caution.