Amy Schumer has repeatedly run afoul of Twitter, which, really, welcome to 2017. That’s not hard to do these days.
Amy Schumer has repeatedly run afoul of other comedians who’ve accused her of stealing jokes, the biggest sin a comedian can make other than not being funny. So, if true – and the accusations keep popping back up – that’s pretty credibility-damaging.
Amy Schumer is now a target of alt-right internet trolls simply because she’s a woman in a position of power who has made some jokes at their expense. That’s why you can’t really trust any of the aggregators which would lead you to believe her Netflix stand-up special The Leather Special truly deserves its 7% RottenTomatoes approval or 3 out of 10 stars on IMDB.
Amy Schumer is also the last woman to solo headline an R-Rated comedy which grossed more than $100 million domestic.
Trainwreck, the Judd Apatow comedy very loosely based on Schumer’s life, was a huge hit in 2015, and should have marked the start of a new film career. However, now Schumer’s second movie, the mom-and-daughter-get-kidnapped-in-South-America buddy picture Snatched, is being released by 20th Century Fox with all of the enthusiasm of a studio which suspects it has a lemon on its hands. Is Snatched really that bad? Just not funny at all? Has the seemingly dream pairing of Schumer and Goldie Hawn as mother and daughter turned into a nightmare? Or have the past couple of years of hostile press for Schumer damaged her cultural cache?
The answers likely depend entirely on what you think of Amy Schumer and her comedy. Personally, I’m a fan, and while I feel Trainwreck suffers from the seemingly inevitable Judd Apatow bloat it still entertains as the perfect crystallization of Schumer’s bawdy stage persona. Moreover, it is a rom-com which is actually about Schumer’s complicated relationship with her father, a multiple sclerosis sufferer played by Colin Quinn in the film, and thus allows her to reveal hidden emotional depths.
Snatched similarly feels like the perfect crystallization of Schumer’s persona – her character Emily, a newly dumped, newly fired woman-child, is unashamedly promiscuous, simultaneously self-confident and self-conscious, prone to drunken theatrics and more than a bit stunted emotionally. So, if you can’t get enough of Schumer’s inspired knack for drunk acting then you’ll love Emily’s magical date with a cute local (Tom Bateman) she meets at a bar while on her Ecuadorian resort vacation. Not to spoil too much, but turns out “tits out” is not the charming local expression drunk Emily thinks it is.
However, seeing Amy Schumer doing the Amy Schumer shtick is only half of the appeal of Snatched, or least it’s supposed to be. You’re supposed to also come for the mother-daughter-bonding-while-on-the-run-from-would-be-kidnappers between Schumer and Hawn, making her first appearance in a film since 2002’s The Banger Sisters. Schumer insisted on casting the 72-year-old Hawn, but the producers and director (50/50’s Jonathan Levine) put the semi-retired actress through the ringer in the audition-interview process to suss out whether or not she could still act. That might seem insulting, but on-screen comedy has changed immensely since 2002. Can Hawn truly hang with the master improvisers who now populate American comedy?
The results are mixed. Schumer and Hawn are instantly believable as mother and daughter, both in appearance and energy. However, if you’re familiar with Hawn’s filmography you’ll likely watch Snatched in anticipation of her getting a couple of standout comedy moments of her own, but they almost never come. That’s partially by design. She is the straight woman in this comedy duo, leaving almost all of the jokes and physical comedy to Schumer. It’s also partially because Hawn’s comic timing often seems just a half-step behind Schumer’s. They oddly make for a funnier interview pair on talk shows than they do an on-screen duo.
But that’s actually okay because Snatched calls on Hawn to be the heart of the film, not the funny bone. The inevitable bickering is not as overplayed as it could have been, and Hawn’s multiple declarations of love for her daughter helps to carry the emotional weight of the story. even if Hawn’s separate arc about needing to reclaim a sense of adventure in her life feels slightly half-hearted.
The mother-daughter relationship in the film is partially autobiographical, with Schumer telling The Los Angeles Times there are multiple lines of dialogue in Snatched which are taken straight from arguments she’s had with her real mom. Unlike Trainwreck, though, Schumer does not have an official writing credit on Snatched. She and her sister Kim, the former head writer for Inside Amy Schumer, simply punched up Katie Dippold’s script, and the result is a film which is very Amy Schumer in dialogue but very Katie Dippold in story construction.
A former Parks & Recreation staff writer, Dippold first made a name for herself with Paul Feig’s Melissa McCarthy-Sandra Bullock buddy cop comedy The Heat, and then followed that up with the Ghostbusters reboot. A commonality across those two films is that in any Dippold script there can be, at best, only two competent male characters. The ladies rule, and boys drool. This exaggerated battle of the sexes is deployed far less successfully in Ghostbusters, but yields consistent laughs throughout Snatched.
Schumer and Hawn repeatedly encounter would-be male rescuers who turn into grand disappointments, most notably Chris Meloni as a hilariously delusional wannabe Indiana Jones. Dippold, however, oversteps with a running side story involving Emily’s agoraphobic, geeky man-child brother (Ike Barinholtz) repeatedly quarreling with a State Department employee (Bashir Salahuddin). Remove those scenes entirely and give us more of Schumer and Hawn in the jungle and we probably have a funnier movie.
But, again, that’s okay because Snatched is plenty funny enough. Prior to the start of the film, my theater (and, I assume, most other theaters) ran a special video from Schumer and Hawn thanking us for choosing to support their movie. At one point Schumer encouragingly joked, “Please, have fun and laugh like there’s no one judging you.” I took the advice to heart and laughed a lot at Snatched, a perfectly imperfect little comedy. It lacks the depth of Trainwreck and is a bit schizophrenic between its relatively normal first half and increasingly cartoonish second half, but I laughed like no one was judging me. And I won’t judge you if you laughed too.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Snatched is The Black Sheep to Trainwreck’s Tommy Boy. That’s not a perfect comparison because there you had a buddy duo, Chris Farley and David Spade, attempting to repeat their schtick to lesser, but broader results whereas here it’s just Amy Schumer, newly hooking her comedy wagon to Goldie Hawn but returning none of her Trainwreck co-stars. Plus, Black Sheep and Tommy Boy are kind of the same movie whereas Trainwreck and Snatched work in two entirely different genres, the former a rom-com, the latter an Americans-in-a-strange-land comedy with a mother-daughter twist. However, it still feels a bit like the same thing all over again, an emerging star repeating a now-audience tested schtick but with less emotional depth and far broader comedy. Luckily, I like Schumer’s brand of comedy. So, I’m cool with seeing it on screen again, even if I wish more of the jokes had been floated Goldie Hawn’s way.