Snatched

(15)

★ ★ 

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IN this scattershot crime comedy from director Jonathan Levine (Warm Bodies, 50/50) and writer Katie Dippold (Ghostbusters remake, Parks and Recreation), US stand-up and TV sensation Amy Schumer plays Emily Middleton, an impulsive young woman who is dumped by her boyfriend and left with no-one to go with on her expensive trip to Ecuador.

Since the vacation is non-refundable, she heads back home to her overly concerned mother Linda (Goldie Hawn, returning to movies after a 15 year absence), whom she convinces to come with her on what she hopes will be the trip of a lifetime.

They arrive in Ecuador and at first everything goes swimmingly, including Emily meeting a handsome British guy named James (Tom Bateman) who agrees to show them some of the sights. Unfortunately for them their car is ambushed and they are kidnapped by a drug lord.

The film is happy to take the path of the well-worn adventure-gone-wrong scenario, chucking in Schumer’s brand of often crude humour and a healthy dose of fringe silliness in the supporting cast; Joan Cusack leaping around as a tongue-less ex-military type, Christopher Meloni as a wannabe Indiana Jones with very little actual experience.

It’s actually strongest when it focuses on the well-meaning thread that runs through it about the relationship between a mother and her grown-up yet immature daughter. The talented duo helps sell the relationship and they clearly had a whale of a time filming it. But what is it they say? The more fun actors have making a comedy, the less fun it tends to be for the audience. The film too often falls back on lazy comedy tropes, a gag rate that at best only sporadically hits the mark – the now obligatory Game Of Thrones reference raises one of the biggest laughs – and a threadbare plot of the kind we’ve seen a thousand times before.

There’s also some very uncomfortable handling of the culture that’s either pointed and laughed at – the heavily-accented pronunciation of the word “welcome” passes for a scene of vulgar slapstick – or reduced to the basis for fear of the unknown. If it were funnier these sorts of things might fly but as it stands, it’s all too patchy and single-minded to really pull it off.