Just in time for Mother’s Day is “Snatched,” the kidnap comedy starring Goldie Hawn and Amy Schumer as a mom and daughter abducted while on vacation in Ecuador. Where’s Liam Neeson (“Taken”) and his particular set of skills when you need him to liven up a humorless -- pointless -- exercise? Schumer, so terrific in her debut in “Trainwreck,” doesn’t get to flex her comedic chops like you’d hope. Same with Hawn, back in movies for the first time since 2002’s “The Banger Sisters.”
Hints of a dynamic duo are here, except the script from Katie Dippold (“The Heat,” “Ghostbusters”) is oh-so predictable and phony in its regimented march to a crowd-pleasing ending.
Director Jonathan Levine (“The Night Before”) disappointingly keeps his leading ladies on a leash, allowing only the slightest leeway to improvise, which is tantamount to a crime with a livewire like Schumer and her bawdy, perverse brilliance. A scene about her lady parts is inspired, making it impossible for co-star Tom Bateman to keep a straight face. The best bits, I fear, were left on the cutting-room floor.
It also makes no sense why a great comedic actress like Hawn is reduced to playing Schumer’s straightman, or more precisely, straight-mom, Linda. “Snatched” could have used Hawn’s brand of brash creation, making for two times the fun.
As is, the script gives itself a hernia straining to find laughs by stranding Emily and Linda deep into the Amazon jungle and then tasking them with finding their way home. Road movie tropes rule like a South American dictator, as Emily and Linda take a slow-moving boat, then a canoe down the river and later walk miles through the rainforest on a journey in which the destination is not so much Bogota as it is redemption. Personal growth ensues.
Both characters revel in the escape from their pathetic lives. Emily was just dumped. Linda is an unfulfilled divorcee with two cats. One is tightly wound and one could use some undoing. One is a selfish narcissist, the other is not. They share DNA, but are opposites. Or, at least to start with.
Along the way, rote bonding occurs; all sparked by a gauntlet of misadventures involving fellow tourists played by Wanda Sykes and Joan Cusack, and a trek through the Amazon with a would-be rescuer (Christopher Meloni). Worst of all is when Emily has a tapeworm extracted. It’s just disgusting. On the homefront, Ike Barinholtz playing Emily’s agoraphobic brother, Jeffrey, has a run-in with a State Department worker (Bashir Salahuddin) that has a nice pay-off.
Schumer and Hawn possess potential to be a fun comedic duo, but Levine totally squanders the match, frustratingly holding our expectant pleasure ransom.
-- Dana Barbuto may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @dbarbuto_Ledger.
Cast: Amy Schumer, Goldie Hawn, Ike Barinholtz, Wanda Sykes, Joan Cusack, Tom Bateman.
(R for crude sexual content, brief nudity, and language throughout.)