Snatched (2017) Review
Snatched is directed by Jonathan Levine (Warm Bodies, The Night Before) and stars Amy Schumer (Trainwreck, Inside Amy Schumer) and Goldie Hawn (The First Wives Club, Overboard). "When her boyfriend dumps her before their exotic vacation, a young woman persuades her ultra-cautious mother to travel with her to paradise, with unexpected results". Can Schumer score again or was Trainwreck a one-hit-wonder?
I really wanted to love Snatched - it was my 6th most anticipated film of the year and unfortunately, it won't be making my year end list, it was simply good and I liked it, I didn't love it. Snatched doesn't change the game of its genre unlike Trainwreck which was a pretty unconventional romantic comedy. Snatched has plenty of laughs - more than Baywatch in fact - but I just think the whole production is much more forgettable. This film didn't feel like it had to be seen on the big screen despite the exotic locations and 'action' sequences. I think that is down to the director and cinematographer though. I'd recommend the film to fans of Schumer, Hawn or those who want to have a good time but this isn't essential viewing and I certainly wouldn't rush out for it.
I really really like Amy Schumer - ever since she blew up in 2015 prior to the release of Trainwreck, I have been riding the Amy Schumer train and have stuck by her through thick and thin. Schumer has recently become one of the most controversial celebrities due to her political values and much like Katy Perry in the music industry, Amy Schumer has unfortunately lost a lot of her positive following and gained tribes of internet trolls hating on everything she does. To me, Schumer is as funny as ever - I don't think her performance is going to get her a Golden Globe nomination this time but I think she did a really good job. I also thought her chemistry with Goldie Hawn was fabulous - the two really felt like mother and daughter. Speaking of Goldie Hawn - this is her first major release in 15 years! Hawn was brilliant - she didn't feel dated or out of place - this wasn't a paycheque gig for her. Even though Schumer is the comedian, Hawn is equally funny and has some hilarious moments! Even though Schumer and Hawn are the stars of the show - they are occasionally supported by the likes of Wanda Sykes, Ike Barinholtz, Joan Cusack and Oscar Jaenada. All but Cusack do a respectable job and have their funny moments. However, Cusack's performance was a little embarrassing and I don't think her character added the comedic element that she was supposed to and some of that has to be down to her performance.
The story of Snatched is actually one of its strongest elements - there is a heart-warming message about family at the core of the plot and I think it really works. The film begins by establishing Emily's (Schumer) romantic situation and her distance relationship with her mother, Linda (Hawn). The film also takes its time to actually have the audience and characters enjoy the vacation they believe they're on - there are some really fun moments. Then everything gets turned on its head and Snatched goes from a vacation comedy to a thriller-comedy (I don't actually think that sub-genre exists). There is some real tension despite the constant jokes and light-hearted moments. The stakes do seem pretty high. There are some areas that are glossed over - for example, when Emily faints in the jungle and then suddenly wakes up in a hospital bed in a local village - how did Linda actually navigate her way to a nearby village when beforehand it seemed like they were completely lost? I think the film could have at least showed the audience Linda struggling to and then discovering the village. It then suddenly becomes all too easy for Emily to find Linda when they are separated - it makes you think, why were the FBI so ignorant when Emily made it seem so easy. I actually think the ending was slightly rushed as the film probably had a 90 minute quota to meet so they didn't have time to show these plot holes. I liked how some of the things that were referenced early on circled back in the final scenes - for example, the rape whistle and wild dancing came in helpful. The story was good but the film did have a few duller moments but I think the narrative is definitely a strong element. However, there was nothing about it that really pushed boundaries - that almost become Schumer's niche from Trainwreck and made her stand out from the crowd. Unfortunately, Snatched plays like a disposable but fun comedy.
There is a great message at Snatched's centre and a Mother's Day release was a genius idea. As already mentioned, the chemistry between Schumer and Hawn is brilliant. However, I actually think the relationship between the two characters is written very well. It's established that both are lonely yet neither see each other often. The portrayal of an adult daughter/mother relationship was also quite humourous - seeing adults still act like children in their parents house was so odd but so real. There are some really selfless acts from both characters during the film which shows how close they are were actually quite touching. I also anticipated a character arc with Emily in terms of how self-absorbed and obsessed with social media she was - the film was clearly trying to say something about living in the moment but they didn't really do anything with that - even a one-liner towards the end to glue it together would have worked. Writer, Katie Dippold exceeds in creating a touching and believable mother/daughter relationship and is able to put together a narrative that generally flows but is unable to fulfil some ideas she presents early on.
Snatched is a funny movie and I think if we're looking at the film and whether it succeeds in fitting its genre, Snatched is a wild triumph. A slight issue I had with Baywatch was that despite there being consistent funny gags throughout, it lacked a big laugh we hadn't already seen in the trailers and I actually think it's the reverse with Snatched. There are a couple of big laughs that we hadn't actually seen yet - involving a boob slip and a tapeworm that were memorable and hilarious. However, I actually think the film lacked those effective smaller laughs. There were plenty of them but many of those were in the trailers and quite a few fell flat. There is a clever joke towards the beginning of the film that involved Emily supposedly talking away about her life problems to a friend in a clothing shop and it turns out that Emily is actually an employee of the shop and the woman is a customer. The film also plays on the idea of cultural appropriation and makes commentary on how people from Western regions act pretty superficial in other countries and cultures. I think the film could have also done more with this - it didn't cross the line at all but I feel like these jokes could have been funnier. I love a good party/dance scene in a film and Snatched technically has two - the first of which is filled with Schumer showing off her funky dancing and concludes with one of the film's bigger laughs.
I think what fatally lets Snatched down is the cinematography and the overall feel of the film - despite the exotic locations, big stars and ambitious plot, Snatched just fails to hit the mark and I blame that on two individuals - the director, Jonathan Levine and the cinematographer, Florian Ballhaus. This is definitely Levine's most ambitious project yet - his previous ones have all been quite self-contained all have at least been set in mundane locations. Although he's a producer, I think someone like Paul Feig or Judd Apatow could have done a better job. They are used to handling 'big' comedies and I think they would have helped Snatched to reach its full potential. Looking at his resume, Florian Ballhaus - he did the camerawork for the Divergent films which looked pretty good so I don't know why Snatched looked so mediocre. Snatched has also some really obvious green-screen moments and honestly had the production value of a film like Hot Pursuit or a TV movie. Comedies really need to become more ambitious if the genre is to survive, why can't we get someone like Emmanuel Lubezki to do the cinematography for a comedy like Snatched - how amazing would it have looked?! The music choices added some more fun to the film but some of them didn't really work and the transitions were quite sudden.
Snatched is a fun comedy that is sure to satisfy audiences...until they forget about is a few days later. Yes, unfortunately, Snatched is no Trainwreck and is a run-of-the-mill comedy that fails to standout from the crowd. There are some hilarious moments and Schumer and Hawn are the perfect mother/daughter combo. The plot is ambitious and the script occasionally leaves some plot holes and doesn't tie up some previously presented ideas. However, Snatched's main problem is the direction and cinematography - neither are ambitious as this project is. This should have been Schumer's revival to win audiences back over and follow up her previous hit but it should also have been Hawn's revival as her big screen debut in 15 years. Unfortunately, Levine was not quite up to the job.