Review: Hawn, Schumer can’t save botched ‘Snatched’

Goldie Hawn’s big screen return after 15 years is fine for awhile, then gets lost in the jungle

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

You can say this for “Snatched”: It’s about as funny as a movie about an international kidnapping incident can be.

Amy Schumer, left, and Goldie Hawn play daughter and mother, respectively, in the abduction comedy “Snatched.”

Before it becomes a movie about an international kidnapping incident, “Snatched” is doing quite well for itself, which seems to beg the question, why did it have to go down that route? It’s like the filmmakers were really tied to the kidnapping thing, when it’s the least interesting path the movie could have traveled.

Goldie Hawn came back for this? Sadly, yes. Hawn, returning to the screen for the first time since 2002’s “The Banger Sisters,” plays Linda Middleton, a mother of two who has long since lost her sense of adventure.

She gets her chance to recapture it when her wayward daughter Emily (Amy Schumer) invites her on a vacation to Ecuador. Emily is a going-nowhere thirtysomething, who loses her job and her boyfriend in the opening minutes of the movie. As played by Schumer, she’s a less refined (and less defined, and frankly less likable) version of the character she played in “Trainwreck,” but Schumer has a spark and a fearlessness that makes even the slightest character moments pop.

Hawn and Schumer are great playing off each other and make a strong mother-daughter team; “you’re too young to be acting like this,” Emily tells Linda, trying to get her to loosen up, while Linda replies, “you’re too old to be acting like this,” trying to get her daughter to stop being so reckless.

For about 40 minutes, “Snatched” is a fun, loose modern comedy, exploring the relationship and mother-daughter dynamic between the two stars. But then the pair ends up in an abduction storyline and the movie quickly heads south.

Amy Schumer plays a kidnapped woman who keeps getting away in “Snatched.”

It’s not just the pointed sense of foreign panic that sends the film spiraling. The movie’s narrative quickly unravels, with plot threads dangling everywhere and any sense of coherence totally lost in the jungle. It’s like the script was hammered out over a night of heavy drinking and handed in the next morning without a re-read; entire sequences have either been removed or, worse, never existed in the first place.

Hawn and Schumer’s characters are captured, but they keep managing to escape, making “Snatched” less a comic version of “Taken” and more like something out of a “Scooby Doo” plot. Hawn and Schumer do the best they can with the material, but they, too, seem to long for the much better version of the movie that existed before the kidnapping plot took over.

The supporting cast puts in decent work. Wanda Sykes and Joan Cusack are a hoot as a vacationing couple trained to the dangers of abduction incidents; Ike Barinholtz is ready to boil over as a coddled manchild still living with mommy; and Bashir Salahuddin is wonderfully aloof as an agent with the U.S. state department who refuses to offer his assistance to the kidnapping case.

But director Jonathan Levine (“50/50”) can’t make much from the mush; individual sequences work, but taken together, the whole thing feels like it’s had shotgun holes blown through it.

Hawn, 72, has more to offer than this, and Schumer is the right partner to bring it out of her. But “Snatched” isn’t the right vehicle for them. You wish they’d been kidnapped from this and put into a better movie.

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Rated R: for crude sexual content, brief nudity, and language throughout

Running time: 97 minutes