The best comedians can wring laughs out of almost any topic, no matter how dark. In fact, it’s often that darkness that gives people permission to laugh since the alternatives would be to cry or scream, and who wouldn’t rather laugh than scream? Amy Schumer’s new movie, Snatched, could be portrayed as a harrowing thriller, but with tweaks and nods toward absurdity, it instead becomes one of the funnier movies of the year so far.
Schumer plays Emily Middleton, a self-absorbed woman who doesn’t seem to be going anywhere in life. When her boyfriend abruptly breaks up with her, she convinces her mom, Linda (Goldie Hawn), to accompany her on a non-refundable trip to Ecuador.
Once there, Emily’s self-absorption continues to rear its ugly head when an Australian man, James (Tom Bateman), seems to take a shine to her. It’s not long, however, before he lures her and Linda into a situation to be kidnapped. The kidnappers hold them for ransom, with Emily’s nerdy and agoraphobic brother, Jeffrey (Ike Barinholtz), seemingly their only hope for rescue.
It may sound like a backhanded compliment, but the best thing about Snatched is that you don’t have to think about it too much. The film absolutely revels in its dumb jokes, making fun of everything from clumsy attempts at self-cleaning to straight-up killings. But director Jonathan Levine, writer Katie Dippold, and the cast know the difference between acting dumb and actually being dumb.
In other words, you won’t feel guilty for laughing at their stupidity, something that can’t be said for a lot of other comedies. The film is also helped by keeping things going at a brisk pace. Many of the twists and turns may not make much sense, but you’re too busy laughing at the next joke to worry about it.
Schumer’s penchant for playing characters who care mostly about themselves can wear a little thin, but her commitment to the role overrides its vapid nature. Hawn, taking on her first movie role in 15 years, hasn’t missed a beat. She’s allowed to stay mostly calm while Schumer goes off the rails, but somehow she earns just as many laughs, if not more.
Snatched is one of those films that begs to be seen in a movie theater, as the communal aspect of sharing belly laughs with strangers is priceless. It may not last in your consciousness for more than a couple of days, but the experience will have been worth it.