James Wright’s poem “Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota” concludes with the line, “I have wasted my life,” a phrase that is repeated by a character in the film “Snatched.” After finishing this excruciating movie, you will have wasted 97 minutes of your own life but just remind yourself, as the evening darkens and comes on, at least you haven’t yet wasted the whole thing.
While there’s little sympathy for Amy Schumer for selecting this vehicle, you pity Goldie Hawn—star of “Shampoo” and “Overboard”!—for attempting a comeback after a 15-year hiatus with this extremely weak material.
Schumer plays Emily, a young woman who suffers a parade of degradation in the opening scenes, losing her retail job and hipster boyfriend in the same day. With a vacation to Ecuador planned and no friends or lovers to speak of, Emily turns to her mom (Hawn’s Linda) to accompany her.
Linda is a bare sketch of an overprotective den mother, screeching at Emily, “I’m calling you for computer help,” and cohabitating with her other offspring, Jeffrey (Ike Barinholtz), a one-note, Dwight Schrutian shut-in. She is unwilling to give up her romance novels in suburbia until Emily emphasizes that her plane tickets are non-refundable, the ultimate trump card for fretful parents.
Thus, the pair travels to Ecuador, shown only as a pan-South American mixture of screen stereotypes—there are empty beaches with crashing waves, heavily-accented hotel staff, kids playing soccer on dirt fields and, of course, the threat of kidnapping by drug cartels around every street corner outside the resort.
Between dull gags about rape whistles and wearing too much sunscreen, mother and daughter meet another cautious couple: Ruth (Wanda Sykes) and Barb (Joan Cusack). Ruth talks a blue streak about the threat of abduction while Barb says nothing, because her tongue has been cut out. It must be that Cusack—again, the wasted comedic talent—decided her character was a mute as a defense mechanism against speaking any of the leaden lines provided by screenwriter Katie Dippold. After the flat “Ghostbusters,” there is a growing body of evidence that suggests Dippold’s main flaw as a comedy writer is that she isn’t funny.
Regretfully, the show must go on, so our heroine falls in with a dark and stormy stranger, James (Tom Bateman), who does indeed hand Emily and her petrified mother over to the kidnapper Morgado (Óscar Jaenada), a deeply silly cartel honcho who dresses in leftover costumes from “The Sopranos.”
Lowbrow hijinks ensue as Dippold and Schumer flail about for any potentially funny gags to earn their R rating. At a certain point in their mindless grasping for zany fun, they decide tapeworms are hilarious and make the most extensive scene of all time about evicting an oral tapeworm.
The most worthwhile part of the film is observing the constant, impressive work done to keep Schumer and Hawn’s hair matching exactly, via implausible jungle blowouts (Hawn’s lion’s mane is perhaps motivated by her longtime partner Kurt Russell’s luscious locks in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”). One can squint and imagine that perhaps the two women had a fun time in their trailers between scenes as their coifs were re-volumized.
Director Jonathan Levine has made a film so hacked together and dull for Schumer that it makes you cry out for a below average Melissa McCarthy vehicle—where have you gone “Identity Thief” or “The Boss”?
‘Snatched’ is showing at the Sonoma 9 Cinemas. Rated R. Running time 1:37. Visit cinemawest.com