After a 15-year absence from the movies, Goldie Hawn returns in an almost ceremonial capacity in Snatched, passing the baton of up-for-anything comedy to Amy Schumer, who shares with her a willingness to drive into a muck, Private Benjamin style. The two women don’t have everything in common: Hawn is the more credible actress and Schumer’s comic persona, forged in the hot fires of the stand-up circuit, has a brazen vulgarity and sexual candor that’s specifically hers. But Hawn and Schumer are both unpretentious and absent of vanity, and they’re not afraid of taking the low road to get to their destination. Snatched is their Blond Ambition tour, but with Schumer as the headliner, which throws this already ramshackle production completely off balance. It’s not a partnership so much as a coronation.
The main problem with Snatched, however, is that it mostly stops being funny the moment the kidnapping premise kicks in. Before then, Schumer works the fallout from a breakup into mercilessly self-deprecating comedy, turning the pain and humiliation of getting dumped into a comment on her character’s Instagram narcissism and flailing desperation. Schumer stars as Emily, who experiences two life-changing setbacks in short succession when she loses her job at a clothing store and loses a rock-star boyfriend (Randall Park) whose musical fortunes have, in his reckoning, given him access to a wider array of vaginas. Before the split, the two had planned a resort getaway to Ecuador and now she can’t find anyone to take the extra ticket, mainly on account of her odious personality.
In contrast to her devil-may-care recklessness, Emily’s mother Linda (Hawn) is practically a shut-in, living at home with her depressed cats and a halfwit grown son (Ike Barinholtz) who still calls her “ma-ma,” like a baby bird still chirping from the nest. Linda is the type of cautious mother who scans sex offender registries and local news to keep her daughter on constant threat alert, so the idea of Emily going to Ecuador alone freaks her out. But using two magic words, “nonrefundable ticket,” Emily persuades her mother to come along on her South American adventure and perhaps rediscover the wild side she’d been suppressing for decades. Not long after Emily connects with a handsome stranger at the resort, however, mother and daughter are kidnapped by a Ecuadorian gangsters looking for a quick ransom payoff.