DIR: Jonathan Levine • WRI: Katie Dippold • PRO: Peter Chernin, Paul Feig, Jessie Henderson, Jenno Topping • DOP: Florian Ballhaus • ED: Zene Baker, Melissa Bretherton • DES: Mark Ricker • MUS: Chris Bacon, Theodore Shapiro • CAST: Amy Schumer, Goldie Hawn, Ike Barinholtz
When the initial trailer for Snatched was released earlier this year, it appeared to be a standard mediocre affair. There was Amy Schumer, playing a thirty-something year old struggling to sort her life out; there was Goldie Hawn, returning to her acting career after 15 years which would garner cross-generation appeal; and there were the drinks, the parties, and the sex (set to the backdrop of Ecuador) that anyone has come to expect appearing in an American comedy. Then suddenly, the twist, as both Schumer and Hawn wake up to discover they’ve been kidnapped and imprisoned in a filthy, dark cellar and terrified for their lives.
Watching the film, this tonal swerve is no easier to digest. It’s certainly the most interesting and simultaneously confounding element which the Paul Feig produced chick flick has to offer. The choice makes sense in theory – combining the dark thriller tones that made The Hangover a phenomenal success with the ribald stylings of Schumer and the empowerment fantasies which have made previous Feig films as popular as they are. Snatched offers an example of why making a comedy that incorporates darker aspects of other genres can be more difficult than it might sound. When The Hangover: Part III decided to elevate the stakes by killing people, the excess ruined the comedy and a similar situation presents itself here. Schumer and Hawn making jokes about being potential sexual assault victims (before and during the central plot even begins) which not only feels tasteless but ominous as you wonder how far this supposed comedy will take its dark subject matter.
The crasser qualities might be forgiven if the film was actually funny but it never generates any humour, setting up jokes for far too long and making the punchlines extremely predictable. One of the most egregious examples finds itself in a character named Roger who the mother and daughter meet when they escape. He presents himself as a macho-adventurer, offering his services to bring them to safety, and it takes until the very final moments of the second act before the obvious joke that he’s anything but how he looks is finally revealed. This joke repeats with different characters throughout. Snatched misuses the rule of three by making the gag be the thrust of the story so that it no longer exists as a joke.
Schumer ascended to international stardom following the surprise hit of Trainwreck nearly two years ago and has since gone quiet in her cinematic career. As a follow up, Snatched is a disappointment from beginning to end, often making the style that made Schumer sheen as a comedic performer be the very same thing that makes her egregiously insufferable to watch. Fans of Goldie Hawn might equally feel disappointed by the underuse of her comedic prowess despite being one of two lead actresses in the cast. Both leads undoubtedly possess a serviceable chemistry but that connection is soured by the screenplay’s decision to make both characters very unlikable. If anything, while Snatched tries to imitate comedies by Paul Feig and Todd Phillips, what it most closely resembles is an Adam Sandler comedy, with all the pain and clumsy humour which that implies.
12A (See IFCO for details)
Snatched is released 19th May 2017