Courtney Howard is a LAFCA, OFCS and AWFJ member, as well as a Rotten Tomatometer-approved film critic. Her work has been published on Variety, She Knows and Awards Circuit.
Courtney Howard // Film Critic
SNATCHED, 90 minutes, R
Directed by: Jonathan Levine
Starring: Amy Schumer, Goldie Hawn, Ike Barinholtz, Randall Park, Wanda Sykes, Joan Cusack, Tom Bateman, Óscar Jaenada, Christopher Meloni, Bashir Salahuddin
It’s always worrisome – to me, at least – when well-established, iconic actresses return from a decades-long silver screen sabbatical. Jane Fonda took an extended break only to be wooed back with such illustrious (cough, cough, painfully unfunny) comedies like MONSTER IN LAW and GEORGIA RULE, making us wonder why on Earth she bothered. This is what worried me about Goldie Hawn’s fifteen year hiatus – a career on pause since 2002’s THE BANGER SISTERS. After beginning her career in the late 60’s, she parlayed her disarming good looks and enchanting spirit to become a pioneering force in feminist comedy in the 1980’s (PRIVATE BENJAMIN, WILDCATS and PROTOCOL). It’s no wonder that subversive feminist comedian Amy Schumer (TRAINWRECK) and recent GHOSTBUSTERS-reboot screenwriter Kate Dippold would be the pair to bring Hawn back into the fold in a female-driven raunch-comedy, SNATCHED. The result is a surprisingly sweet, absolutely hysterical, unconventional buddy movie that’s entirely satisfying and meaningful.
Emily Middleton (Schumer) is a hot mess. She’s just lost her minimum wage job for being a major screw-up. And right before a romantic vacation to Ecuador, her musician boyfriend Michael (Randall Park) dumps her. Depressed and desperate, Emily reluctantly high-tails it back home to spend time with her multiple cat-owning single mom (Hawn), who’s losing hope in life herself, and shut-in brother Jeffrey (Ike Barinholz, who makes man-child cries for his mom into next level art). Since Emily’s trip is non-refundable, and she can’t find any friend to take the extra ticket, she asks her once-vibrant, globe-trotting mom to be her companion. But their two tickets to paradise quickly unravel into chaos – and not because someone isn’t wearing enough sunscreen, or embracing day-drinking. The adventure really begins when the pair are kidnapped, taken to Columbia and held for ransom by local thug Hector Morgado (Óscar Jaenada). As Jeffrey works on getting US government agent Morgan Russell (Bashir Salahuddin) to mount a rescue mission, Mom and daughter must use their special set of skills to escape to Bogota.
On more than a few occasions, Dippold and director Jonathan Levine (50/50, WARM BODIES), subvert expectations with their supporting players. The first scene shows Schumer obnoxiously prattling on to her real-life sister (Kim Caramele, who also executive produces here) about her great relationship and impending vacation. The joke turns out to be that Caramele is a customer – not her sister. Hawn’s spit take that follows a misheard pronunciation of “welcome” will earn mileage with audiences. That outrageous joke is this film’s “baby in bar” bit from Dippold’s THE HEAT (which, years later, still makes me howl with laughter). There’s a very funny gag involving the gals’ dashing “expedition guide” Roger (Chris Meloni) that makes you believe we’ve been undervaluing Meloni as a society for far too long. Speaking of under-utilized treasures, Joan Cusack, who plays mute special-ops agent “Barb,” gives her best non-speaking performance since her magnificent work in SIXTEEN CANDLES. Her hilarious cutaway reactions are this film’s manna – specifically when she’s getting ready to torture a character for information. Plus, Zene Baker and Melissa Bretherton’s snappy, whip-smart editing helps to nail the jokes’ zingy timing.
Beyond the uproarious punchlines and comedic shenanigans, the poignant themes of motherhood and letting go will sneak up on you. It’s really touching to hear Hawn dig deep, bringing a compassionate, vulnerable voice what your own mom probably feels. A lump formed in my throat during her meltdown in the jungle.
Despite the main character arcs bordering on a tad simplistic, I’m loving that these characters are shown being completely capable in their incapabilities.
SNATCHED opens on May 12. Take your mother – ANY mother!