May 11, 2017
If you’re a card-carrying member of the Amy Schumer Fan Club, you’re probably going to want to stop reading right now.
If she’s your own personal modern feminist comedy icon, you’ll see Snatched this weekend, and you’ll laugh at all the appropriate moments and brush away all the uncomfortable-but-not-in-the-funny-way ones. If you’re a long-time fan, though, that sifting process won’t be unfamiliar, and you’ll move on, having found another Schumer performance to enjoy and cringe over in equal measure. For the rest of you planning to see Snatched, get ready to be as confused as ever about where exactly Schumer’s appeal lies.
In the latest comedy from the producers and writers who brought audiences Bridesmaids, Spy, The Heat, and last year’s Ghostbusters, Schumer plays Emily, a woman obsessed with creating the illusion of a perfect life on Instagram, but who actually has iffy relationships with her family and has recently been dumped. Unwilling to miss out on a trip to Ecuador that was planned pre-breakup, Emily cajoles her mother, played by Goldie Hawn, to accompany her. Once in Ecuador the two women are kidnapped and thrown into a series of events that forces them to confront the personal shortcomings that have led to their strained relationship. That is technically the plot summary, but it’s not what the movie is about.
The film meanders through some culturally appropriate messaging, lightly touching on the minefield that is social media and solemnly nodding its head at the notion of white privilege in the same way a person who does not want to acknowledge their privilege might do at a cocktail party. But those bland, consequence-free sermonettes are also not what the movie is about.
Snatched is about nothing more and nothing less than proving that women – armed to the gills with fart jokes, sexual innuendo, and disgusting physical gags – are able to carry an R-rated comedy just as well as their male counterparts. Now, Snatched does manage to produce a handful of legitimately funny moments, some of them delivered by Schumer. The issue with both the script and Schumer’s performance is that they don’t seem to know when to move on from any particular moment. A clever joke gets run into the ground until it’s no longer funny, and the many, many lazy jokes are treated as comedy gold.
Like, I get it that there are jokes to be mined from male ejaculate, but I don’t need a pun about the word “welcome” sounding like a large aquatic mammal’s sperm and to hear about how many men have “finished on” Schumer’s character’s unfinished lower back tattoo. Weirdly, the movie passes over some of its own clever setups for raunchy humor, like a scene when Hawn finds herself with nothing to read in prison but an old nudie magazine. It’s like the film’s “funny barometer” is off and what should play like a comedy of errors ends up being just plain wrong.
Ike Barinholtz (The Mindy Project) has the comedy chops to pull off the slightly absurd, agoraphobic, co-dependent Jeffrey, Emily’s younger brother whose willingness to pester someone well beyond the point of annoyance ultimately leads to the women’s rescue, and Bashir Salahuddin (Late Night With Jimmy Fallon) is a particular bright spot as Morgan, the U.S. State Department employee subject to Jeffrey’s antics. I’d gladly watch an entire franchise of Morgan keeping his cool and plotting coups while dealing with the shenanigans of his fellow citizens.
Goldie Hawn returns to the screen after a 15-year hiatus, and the bubbly personality and easy-come-easy-go vibe that Hawn is known for both on- and off-screen is still there, and there’s even a nice homage to her long career embedded in a sweet moment between her and Schumer. Hawn’s ability to bring depth and weight to even the flightiest of characters serves her well when she goes into full mom-mode after the vacation goes south. Though I wish the movie she came back for was better, it is truly a delight to have her back.
Amy Schumer did not write or direct Snatched, but more than the folks behind the camera, and more than the people with her in front of it, she is the face of this film. So while I didn’t set out to make this a rage against Amy Schumer review, I do hold her responsible for perpetuating a particular brand of modern, female-driven comedy that wants to be as raunchy and crass as possible because equality, and for pushing an overly sensitive, self-centered brand of feminism that brags about being able to “catch a d*ck” anytime she wants, but can’t handle someone holding her feet to the fire on important issues.
The real problem with Schumer’s brand is not that I don’t want to see a woman acting like this – farting in bed, making terrible decisions, submitting to societal pressures, refusing to push past the easy joke and find something that resonates with and challenges both herself and her audience – I don’t actually want to see anyone doing those things. In that way, I guess Schumer achieves the equality she purports to want.
YOU SHOULD ALSO: Just watch Romancing The Stone instead!
Star Rating: 2 out of 5