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PHIL ON FILM: 'Snatched' starts off solid, descends into mediocrity

Posted at 9:29 AM, May 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-21 15:39:03-04

Amy Schumer has gone from "Trainwreck" to a metaphorical trainwreck.

Her bad girl act that scorches in sketch comedy, on stand-up and in "Trainwreck" works better in short, wacky bursts than it does in an action comedy -- especially one that strains under the weight of a ludicrous plot.

The Jonathan Levine-directed effort succeeds best when it forgets about the story and focuses on the disappointed, prudish mom-annoyed, overgrown wild child dynamic between the two leads. Levine would have had a better film had he dispensed with all the chases, stunts and exposition and just let Schumer interact with her where's-she-been co-star, Goldie Hawn.

Hawn plays Linda, who tends to her live-in, agoraphobic middle-aged son (Ike Barinholtz) and rolls her eyes at the professional and romantic failures of her freshly dumped and fired daughter, Emily (Schumer). Sensing both she and her mom need a shake-up, Emily drags Linda off to a vacation to Ecuador. Linda is worried they will be kidnapped, which is just what ends up happening. Enter the first of many I-told-you-so moments that Linda and Emily swap back and forth.

There's potential here for a deep dive into mother-daughter relationships, First World travelers stepping out of their bubbles to confront Third World realities and feminist go-girl messaging, but that falls to the wayside as the convoluted plot thinks of ways to make light of the ugly Americans tangling with Latino thug stereotypes.

It's a bit much to expect much of anything profound or socially relevant from what amounts to a travelogue sex comedy, but "Snatched" gets into real trouble once it loses its early-film momentum and the raunchy jokes start to taper off. Schumer and Hawn are far more interesting when getting in and out of awkward sexual situations than they are leaping onto the backs of speeding Jeeps or engaging in gun battles with cartel members.

"Snatched" transforms from a ludicrous, occasionally funny comedy into a dumb, dull action movie, making it all too easy to identify with victims held captive on a long ride to nowhere.

RATING: 2 stars out of 4.