Thank goodness for Snatched, the vehicle by which Goldie Hawn returned to our movie screens after 15 long, Goldie Hawn-less years. (Her last movie was The Banger Sisters in 2002, if you can believe it.) I’m stating this up top so that if you take one thing from this review, let it be: Goldie Hawn is back, and boy, is it good to see her.
Snatched, as the title card that opens the movie so-seriously informs, is “a reckless tale” of murder and mayhem. Oh yeah, it adds, “The kidnappers did bad things too.” Backtracking, we meet Emily (Amy Schumer), a floundering 30-something who is fired from her job and subsequently dumped by her boyfriend, the latter proving particularly inconvenient since she’s booked a nonrefundable trip to Ecuador for two. Pressed, Emily coerces her mother, Linda Middleton (Hawn), a sad helicopter mom who used to love adventure but now loves Grey’s Anatomy and Facebook fake news, to put the “fun in nonrefundable.” Off they go and, it’s no spoiler to say, before long they get snatched.
Schumer’s role here is familiar, but she really is so good at playing the trainwreck woman-child. Her deadpan delivery is as cutting as it’s ever been and, no matter where you fall on her brand of humor, you cannot deny that she is fearless in service of a punchline. Hawn, on the other hand, doesn’t quite keep up with the spitball improv, but she’s sure on her feet and as commanding of screen time as she’s ever been. Together, their chemistry is something special and it’s hard to imagine Schumer will ever find a better onscreen mom.
Unfortunately, the rest of Snatched gets bogged down in their hijinks. The South American kidnappers at best cliché at worst fundamentally problematic, and the plotting gets repetitive quick. There’s nothing too original to do with the millennial daughter and overbearing mother, though Hawn and Schumer do their best to sell it. Director Jonathan Levine (The Night Before) manages to keep the energy up, though, and Ghostbusters screenwriter Katie Dippold’s script contain moments of comedic genius, like one sequence involving a tapeworm removal where the movie absolutely loses its mind, in the best possible way.
Christopher Meloni gets laughs in a brief, silly cameo as a wannabe Indiana Jones, while the supporting cast members each pop up for fun, albeit unnecessary, gags: Wanda Sykes chews on some scenery as a paranoid fellow tourist, Ike Barinholtz is at his most Ike Barinholtz-y as Linda’s agoraphobic son who feuds with the U.S. State Department when they refuse to rescue his “ma-má.” The movie’s biggest crime is its misuse of Joan Cusack, who utters not a single line of dialogue. (That’s the joke, eh.)
I suppose I would have preferred to watch the Snatched where Emily and Linda never get snatched. Maybe there’s not even a mother-daughter vacation or any action or adventure. Maybe the movie I want to watch is just Hawn, at home, dealing with her awful kids. Alas, this is not that. But whatever it takes to get Goldie Hawn onscreen, right?