Amy Schumer bun­gles through the jun­gle, laugh­ing all the way

The Hamilton Spectator - - A & E - ANN HORNADAY

“Snatched,” an oc­ca­sion­ally lazy but fit­fully funny and gen­er­ally pleas­ing com­edy star­ring Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn, is a good news/bad news propo­si­tion. But in terms of pro­vid­ing an hour or so of es­capist respite, it gets the job done.

At a time when gloom, doom and con­sti­tu­tional crises dom­i­nate the head­lines, who couldn’t use a few laughs?

Schumer plays Emily Mid­dle­ton, who as “Snatched” be­gins is in a bou­tique look­ing for some­thing to wear on her up­com­ing va­ca­tion in Ecuador. That scene winds up on a punch­line that sets the tone for a film that’s less an or­ganic, hu­man­scale story than a se­ries of comic pins care­fully set up to be knocked down.

Within min­utes of that open­ing bit, Emily is be­ing dumped by her mu­si­cian boyfriend (played by “Fresh Off the Boat’s” Ran­dall Park) Af­ter ask­ing her friends to take his place on the trip and be­ing turned down, she de­cides to in­vite her mother Linda (Hawn), whose hob­bies in­clude cats, cater­ing to her ago­ra­pho­bic son (Ike Bar­in­holtz) and wor­ry­ing about every­thing.

At first, Linda re­fuses Emily’s re­quest to “help me put the ‘fun’ in ‘non­re­fund­able.’” But she even­tu­ally gives in, and soon this moth­er­daugh­ter odd cou­ple is bick­er­ing pool­side at a fancy Ecuado­ran ho­tel.

Emily meets a hand­some stranger (Tom Bate­man) who seems too good to be true, and is: Af­ter an idyl­lic date on his mo­tor­cy­cle, he takes both women out for a day trip that ends with them be­ing kid­napped and thrown into a dank cell with blood­stained walls and a scor­pion in the cor­ner.

Writ­ten by Katie Dip­pold (“Ghost­busters”) and directed by Jonathan Levine (“50/50”),

“Snatched” fol­lows a fa­mil­iar play­book for mod­ern come­dies, which de­pend less on ver­bal wit and ob­ser­va­tional in­sights than silly jokes, coarse bad­i­nage, bawdy phys­i­cal com­edy and at least one cringe­wor­thy gross-out gag. That box gets checked late in the movie, af­ter Emily and Linda have got­ten into — and es­caped from — any num­ber of life-threat­en­ing scrapes. The film’s other sig­na­ture scene oc­curs ear­lier, when Emily is caught in a com­pro­mis­ing po­si­tion in the ladies’ room of a bar, pre­par­ing her­self for what she hopes will turn out to be a hot date.

In be­tween those set pieces, Bar­in­holtz’s nerdy man-child pesters a long-suf­fer­ing State Depart­ment of­fi­cial (played with on-point ex­as­per­a­tion by Bashir Salahud­din), and the women cross paths with a swash­buck­ling Ama­zon ad­ven­turer, por­trayed by Christo­pher Meloni chan­nel­ing his best “In­di­ana Jones”-era Har­ri­son Ford.

The por­trayal of South Amer­i­can cul­ture in “Snatched” veers from of­fen­sive to pa­tron­iz­ing, when Emily and Linda stum­ble upon an in­dige­nous vil­lage that is used as a con­ve­nient back­drop for an an­o­dyne fem­i­nist state­ment. Schumer, whose self-aware­ness is her se­cret weapon — and helped make “Train­wreck” the tran­scen­dent ro­man­tic com­edy that it was — here wants to have it both ways, daring the au­di­ence to re­ject the crud­est clichés the movie in­dulges, but mak­ing sure to soften her own im­age to make her character more re­lat­able.

Sadly, while Schumer finds her groove, Hawn is wasted in a role ill­suited to the vi­brant, bub­bly co­me­dian that a gen­er­a­tion of fans know and still rec­og­nize un­der­neath the tan and moth­erly neu­ro­sis.

Here, she’s forced to play straight woman and scold to Schumer’s raunchy free spirit, bum­bling her way through life-or-death con­fronta­tions and her own bud­ding cul­tural sen­si­tiv­ity.

No one will ever credit “Snatched” with dis­cov­er­ing new comic ter­ri­tory. But it earns its share of laughs by cov­er­ing some well-trod ground.

JUSTINA MINTZ, 20TH CEN­TURY FOX

Goldie Hawn, right, and Amy Schumer in a scene from “Snatched.”

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