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Bungle in the jungle – ‘Snatched’

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Unfunny comedy marks sad return for legend Goldie Hawn

Goldie Hawn is a comedy legend, one of Hollywood’s most beloved comic actresses. She hadn’t made a movie in 15 years - her last was 2002’s “The Banger Sisters” – until she decided to team up with Amy Schumer on the new movie “Snatched.”

Upon watching the film, I’m left with one big question – why?

The comedy – directed by Jonathan Levine from a script by Katie Dippold – is an underwhelming effort, a mother-daughter drag that too often mistakes shock-value crassness for humor and woefully misuses a pair of extremely talented performers.

Emily Middleton (Schumer) is a drifting underachiever with little going on. Her life is currently consumed by an impending vacation to Ecuador that she’s going to take with her boyfriend. However, when said boyfriend breaks up with her, she’s left scrambling to find someone to go with her on this trip.

She seeks out her overprotective mother Linda (Hawn) for comfort, staying at her childhood home despite the presence of her irritating agoraphobic brother Jeffrey (Ike Barinholtz, “The Angry Birds Movie”). Desperate, she convinces her mother to join her on the non-refundable vacation.

Amidst the standard mother-daughter bickering, Emily winds up meeting a man named James (Tom Bateman, “B&B”) who whisks her away on an evening of adventure. But when they meet up again – joined by Linda – disaster strikes. Emily and Linda are abducted and imprisoned in an undisclosed location.

Hilarious, right?

Their captor is the sinister Morgado (Oscar Jaenada, “Hands of Stone”), who contacts an inept and terrified Jeffrey in an effort to extract a ransom. Through a series of unlikely slapstick circumstances, Emily and Linda escape, only to find themselves stuck in the middle of Colombia with no idea of where to go for safety or who they might trust.

What follows is a largely laugh-free stumble through the jungle. They wind up crossing paths with an adventurer named Roger (Christopher Meloni, “Holding Patterns”) who is not what he seems, but really, it’s about Emily and Linda sniping at one another. All the while, Jeffrey is engaged in an increasingly antagonistic effort to engage the help of a decidedly unhelpful State Department official (Bashir Salahuddin, TV’s “Looking”) to rescue his family.

And of course, on top of the many dangers they face from the jungle, the pair is also being relentlessly pursued by an enraged Morgado who seeks revenge on them for the wrongs he perceives they have done to him.

If this is the project that finally drew Goldie Hawn back into the game after 15 years, I shudder to think the kind of garbage offers with which she must have been inundated over the past decade-and-a-half. A legend like Hawn deserves so much better. So does Schumer, for that matter.

Seriously – “Snatched” just isn’t funny. It’s crass. It’s cringe-inducing. It’s unsexily sexualized and narratively nonsensical. It is smugly self-satisfied without earning any of it. The whole thing is sad and strident and desperate. Yes, there are occasional laughs here and there, but they almost feel accidental; even a blind squirrel can find a joke every once in a while.

The film feels like a stylistic nadir for Schumer; it’s as though every worst-case scenario regarding her comic persona has been consolidated, zapped with disinterested electricity and brought to lurching, unfunny life. It’s basically the movie that Schumer-haters believe all of her movies to be.

Schumer and Hawn aren’t at fault for the film’s terribleness – well, aside from agreeing to do it in the first place. Even amid the morass of this execrable script, glimpses of real chemistry between the two are apparent. You can see how they might have made a great comedic team if they had only been working from a sturdier foundation. But they prove unable to elevate the material as the proceedings devolve into stupid sex jokes and gross-out gags.

Barinholtz is OK, though it seems as though his sole direction was “Be loud and irritating.” Meloni either doesn’t know or doesn’t care what a s—t sandwich this movie is; he seems to be having fun. Salahuddin spends a few scenes glowering while talking on the phone, while Jaenada is basically playing a caricature. Wanda Sykes (“Bad Moms”) and Joan Cusack (“Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping”) also show up for a few scenes to have their considerable talents basically wasted.

“Snatched” simply doesn’t work. It’s a comedy that largely does without jokes, choosing instead to rely on discomfort-inducing moments disguised as humor. That formula rarely works, and it certainly doesn’t here. Schumer and especially Hawn are too good for this kind of lazy filmmaking. We can only hope that this travesty doesn’t keep Hawn away for another 15 years.

In short, don’t pay the ransom – it isn’t worth it. However much it would cost to get “Snatched” back would be too much.

[1 out of 5]

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