Of the two pages of borderline incomprehensible scribbles I jotted down during a decidedly uncrowded showing of Snatched last night, the one that I was most drawn to when revisiting them this morning was, “She keeps saying ECUADOR?!” (The “she” in that case refers to both of the films stars, Amy Schumer and the great Goldie Hawn.) From Snatched’s opening scene to its 30-minute mark, they call out the country by name so frequently that the first act sounds a lot like this: “My boyfriend and I are going on vacation to Ecuador! My boyfriend dumped me before our Ecuador trip! Who will come to Ecuador with me? Mom come to Ecuador! Now we’re in Ecuador! Ecuador is beautiful! Uh oh, we’ve been kidnapped in Ecuador!” But here’s the thing about Snatched: it was filmed in Hawaii.
And that’s fine! I won’t bemoan the movie for not shooting on location and helping out that great state’s economy with a big-budget production, but the repetition reeked of discomfort—like a friend telling you “everything’s fine” several times in one conversation, or a closeted gay man talking about his love of “boobies” a little too often. From its early scenes, Snatched feels anxious and hurried, like a movie unconvinced of its ability to live up to its potential. And that’s perfectly understandable, because Snatched absolutely does not.
Despite the myriad things working in its favor (It stars Goldie Hawn in her first film role since 2002! She and Amy Schumer have great chemistry! It was written by the woman who wrote Ghostbusters! It’s a mother-daughter film cleverly being released on Mother’s Day weekend! It stars Goldie Hawn in her first film role since 2002!), Snatched fails to do anything remotely unique with its women-in-peril, mother-and-daughter-come-together-to-save-each-other plot—and we haven’t even gotten to its unforgivable portrayal of Ecuador (and later, Colombia) as a country whose residents are either serving American tourists in resorts, snatching them and forcing them into the international sex trade, or—in Goldie and Amy’s case—kidnapping them for ransom.
There’s something very funny about the idea of Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn as a mother and daughter whose relationship is strengthened after they’re kidnapped for ransom, but there is very little funny about that same scenario occurring in South America, where clever jokes and physical humor can be lazily replaced with quips about sex slavery, not speaking Spanish, and murdering locals. (Remember Ransom? That kidnapping took place in New Jersey! Why didn’t Snatched take place in New Jersey?!) This insensitivity is impossible to ignore, and sours the entire experience of watching what should have been an absurdist romp with two genuinely funny female stars. Schumer’s repeated accidental killings of their (admittedly bad) wannabe captors is a joke that is most ruined by the film’s xenophobia. While the gag has worked before (Melissa McCarthy has a number of hilarious accidental kills in 2013's Spy), it’s simply not funny to watch Amy Schumer traipse around a South American country accidentally shooting its inhabitants in the head.
By the end (which comes with a swiftness that is oddly telling of the film’s lack of confidence) I felt ashamed of the entire production—and I haven’t even mentioned Wanda Sykes and Joan Cusack, who have a pair of roles so stupefyingly half-formed and unnecessary that I almost want to pretend they weren’t even in it. Goldie Hawn, one of the great comedic actors of her time, deserved a better return to Hollywood than this lazy, embarrassing trip to the southern hemisphere. And it’s painfully clear that everyone involved with Snatched—Hawn and Schumer included—knows it.