Snatched (20th Century Fox, R)

While it is not memorable from a production standpoint, Snatched finds some good comedic ground to stand on thanks to its cast.

Snatched follows the careless and somewhat vain Emily Middleton (Amy Schumer), who loses both her job and her boyfriend right before she is due to take a non-refundable vacation to Ecuador for two. Desperate for someone else to come along, she invites her mother Linda (Goldie Hawn), with whom Emily does not have the best relationship. Linda is afraid of traveling overseas, and Emily thinks this vacation will loosen her mother up. The trip takes a turn when, on a tour with a local (Tom Bateman), they are ambushed and kidnapped by men with sinister intentions. It is a game of staying alive as the bond between mother and daughter is tested now more than ever. Meanwhile, Linda’s son and Emily’s brother, the agoraphobic Jeffrey (Ike Barinholtz) tries to find his family from home.

A premise like Snatched is nothing new, and the fact is that it is not drawn in a new or interesting way. What we essentially have is a comedic chase film, and to find motivation for the kidnappings at the center of the film happening at all is kind of a stretch. That being said, the complexity of the crazy situations that take place in the film can be remedied if they are funny. And, mostly throughout, Snatched is a good time at the theater.

In a career of being able to ably mix comedy and drama, director Jonathan Levine (50/50, Warm Bodies, The Night Before) has undoubtedly made his most commercial production with this film. There is not a lot of filmmaking prowess going on here. While Hawaii (where the film was shot) is undoubtedly beautiful, the wide shots are something you would see in any type of vacation comedy (or a Fast and Furious movie). The choices in music are a little obvious, changing between party EDM and South American melodies. The production choices made here just seem a little too easy when it comes to a comedy like this.

But what the film lacks in superficial value, it mostly makes up for with the gifted cast. This is Schumer’s second starring role, following her impressive turn in the highly memorable Trainwreck. If this film is any indication, Schumer will have a long career on the big screen as she has had on the small screen. Her timing is simply impeccable. Just the way she enunciates a certain word or uses a specific facial expression can elicit a strong reaction. She is hilarious in this, and I cannot wait to see more of what she has to offer. Hawn has a nice chemistry with Schumer, and her character’s personality shines through to deliver some laughs. That being said, those who are seeing this as her long-awaited return may be disappointed in some of the material given to her.

The cast is rounded out by reliably funny people. Barinholtz mixes in the awkwardness and unabashed no-nonsense attitude that Steve Carell made famous in his films. Wanda Sykes, who plays another tourist, can deliver a funny joke. Her character is accompanied by a silent Joan Cusack, who plays more on the physical comedy aspect. Christopher Meloni shows up as a disheveled island dweller who helps Schumer and Hawn out. If I had one complaint, it would be that I wish I could have seen more from the supporting cast.

The cast delivers in a film that feels too safe. Screenwriter Katie Dippold was able to channel a lot more material out of an oddball premise in The Heat, because she played into that wackiness. However, this feels more akin to a standard vacation mishap flick. Sure, she wrangles out some hilarious scenarios, but it feels, on the whole, kind of plain. Dippold is someone with the comedic ability to do much better.

If the film is plain, why should you go see it? Well, because Schumer and Hawn are a blast to watch. If you are looking for a good, harmless, unchallenging time at the theater, check this out. | Bill Loellke

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