[Screen It]


(2017) (Amy Schumer, Goldie Hawn) (R)

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Comedy: After her boyfriend dumps her, a thirty-something woman convinces her homebody mother to accompany her on a trip to Ecuador.
Emily Middleton (AMY SCHUMER) is a thirty-something woman who's about to take a non-refundable trip to Ecuador with her musician boyfriend when he dumps her. Shaken but undeterred, and unable to get anyone else to travel with her, she eventually convinces her homebody mom, Linda (GOLDIE HAWN), to join her on the excursion. Once there, Emily is ready to party, but safety-minded Linda would rather stay at the resort, a sentiment shared by fellow vacationer Ruth (WANDA SYKES), whose girlfriend, Barb (JOAN CUSACK), knows all about dangers in exotic locales, what with having been a special ops agent.

Nonetheless, Emily allows a handsome stranger, James (TOM BATEMAN), to sweep her off her feet and then convinces Linda to join them on a jeep excursion to see the sights. Linda reluctantly agrees, but her innate fears are justified when they're kidnapped by men working for local crime lord, Hector Morgado (OSCAR JAENADA), who expects a handsome ransom from Emily's agoraphobic, adult brother, Jeffrey (IKE BARINHOLTZ), who still lives at home with their mom.

The mother-daughter duo manages to escape and Jeffrey contacts State Department official Morgan Russell (BASHIR SALAHUDDIN) for help. Emily and Linda believe they've found some of that on their own when they come across American adventurist Roger Simmons (CHRISTOPHER MELONI) and later Dr. Armando (ARTURO CASTRO) who try to help the ladies, all while Morgado and his goons keep tracking them down, wanting revenge on them.

OUR TAKE: 3.5 out of 10
Some friends of ours recently told us about a cruise they were about to take through the Panama Canal. It certainly sounded like a fun trip with various ports of call. But of the places they mentioned, the only one I could remember afterward (outside the Canal, of course), was Cartagena. It's not that I've been there and can't wait to go back, and it's not even in my top 50 dream destinations. No, the only reason it registered in my head was due to it being a pivotal location in the action-adventure rom-com, "Romancing the Stone."

That film also came to mind while watching a newer action-comedy that seemingly wanted to tap into some of the qualities that made that Robert Zemeckis flick so much fun. Alas, "Snatched" is no "RTS," and stars Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn clearly aren't Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner. Granted, those latter two played quite different characters who initially clashed, shared some adventures and found themselves falling for each other in the same sort of way Sam and Diane romantically bickered in "Cheers" and Maddie and David did the same in "Moonlighting" (two TV shows from roughly the same era).

In this flick from writer Katie Dippold and director Jonathan Levine, Schumer and Hawn aren't playing some retooled, lesbian version of such a coupling. Instead, they play daughter and mother who travel to Ecuador together. And while Schumer had a hit with 2015's "Trainwreck," Hawn hasn't appeared on the big screen since 2002's "The Banger Sisters." Would this pic return her to comedy form as occurred in the past with the likes of "Foul Play" and "Private Benjamin" or would it be more akin to the dismal bomb that was "Town & Country?"

Alas, I wish I could say it was the former. While this pic has a few decent (and unexpected, shock value based) laughs, it doesn't work very well on most any other front. And the majority of that failure revolves around Schumer's shtick that's already, apparently, jumped the shark as they like to say in Hollywood. I have no problem with women showing they can do "dirty" comedy just the guys have done for decades, or that she has few if any issues with self-body shaming along the lines of how male comedians such as John Belushi, Chris Farley, and Will Ferrell have elicited laughs getting plenty of comedic mileage out of their less than svelte physiques.

But having seen her do this sort of thing before (with "Trainwreck" and in her concerts and TV appearances), it feels like little more than recycled and thus lazy material here. It doesn't help that Dippold's script (or at least what might have been the result of others tampering with the material after it was penned) is fairly lackluster outside of a few shock laughs, such as co-star Christopher Meloni's exit from the film. Granted, he was playing a variation of Douglas' "RTS" character, so perhaps his departure was a good thing to lessen comparisons to that far better flick.

The basic plot boils down to this. Schumer's unlikeable protagonist (she's fired in her first scene for being a jerk) gets dumped by her boyfriend, and with no one else wanting or willing to travel with her, she guilts her safety-conscious mom (Hawn) to tag along, less the nonrefundable vacation go to waste. While Linda doesn't want to leave the resort -- a smart sentiment confirmed by busybody Ruth (Wanda Sykes) what with having heard literal war stories from her self-muted, former special ops girlfriend (Joan Cusack) -- Emily does and thus takes the bait of a ruggedly handsome guy (Tom Bateman) who selects her to hit on.

The two women end up kidnapped by a crime kingpin (Oscar Jaenada playing nothing more than a stereotype) who tries blackmailing Linda's other kid (Ike Barinholtz pushing the boundaries of funny into near-annoyance) who, in turn, won't let up on an increasingly perturbed State Department official (Bashir Salahuddin) to help out. That's followed by various presumably zany adventures, some unexpected deaths, and a scene involving a tapeworm that's about as appetizing as it sounds (and which feels like it belongs in another movie, despite the obvious jungle tie-in).

Yes, a few moments here and there are admittedly funny, but they alone can't carry the flick that otherwise feels uninspired and features an unlikeable protagonist in a mother-daughter story where the chemistry between the two leads doesn't ever fully click (with Hawn once again mostly being wasted -- and not in an alcohol-related sense that perhaps could have made the proceedings funnier). In the end, the only take away from this film is the time "Snatched" from your life. It rates as a 3.5 out of 10.

Reviewed May 8, 2017 / Posted May 12, 2017

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