"Snatched" is the most disappointing movie comedy since the all-female "Ghostbusters." And thereby hangs a tale. The two unfunny botches share a writer--Katie Dippold, who is also known for such successes as "The Heat" and TV's "Parks and Recreation."
Forget, for a moment, the ugly and unseemly online sexual raillery at the very idea of an all-female "Ghostbusters." Some of us -- including the original "Ghostbusters" cast -- were tickled pink at the idea of an all-female movie version starring the two most amazing current SNL women and some of the funniest women in current movies.
In much the same way, some of us looked forward to "Snatched" with an avidity reserved for few other products of Hollywood's dark satanic comedy mills. On paper, here was a comedy we could all sink our teeth into -- Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn playing a mother and daughter comically kidnapped while on vacation in Ecuador.
Advance tales got even better when we found out that Schumer reportedly threw her weight around on Hawn's behalf and threatened to walk off if the movie didn't also star the "Private Benjamin" mega-star of yore playing her mother.
Good for Amy, some of us said to ourselves silently cheering her on. There's a young woman who knows how to fight for the right co-star and who knows a thing or two about her comedy forebears.
Schumer and Hawn (especially) are by far, the best things about a movie which is otherwise close to must-to-avoid.
So attractive was the whole idea of the film and so artful was the marketing of the film on Mother's Day weekend that it is almost painful to advise moviegoers to give this thing as wide a berth as possible. Let's just say that anyone who really loves Mom can find a few thousand better ways to show her.
It isn't funny. I got maybe three small chuckles and one small laugh out of the film's 90 minutes. And even then I was being kind and indulgent because I liked the stars so much.
The moral of this tale? Movies aren't made on paper. You can't just have stars and executives create golden movie ideas in executive suites. Actual screenwriters are required to write good scripts and good directors are required who know what to do with them, however wonderful the cast.
That's where "Snatched," sadly, flunked every possible test, thereby leaving two wonderful comic performers alone out there, dangling with no real support.
The relationship of Schumer to her character in her deserved smash-hit "Trainwreck" is tangential. She is just as much a self-absorbed and ongoing wreck. Unfortunately, the movie's first 20 minutes establish how hopelessly self-obsessed and unpleasant she is -- so much so that your affections for her never really recover as the film goes on.
Key to the successful "Private Benjamin" which was obviously thought to be a forebear of this, is that the audience had an unshakeable faith in Hawn's simple-hearted sweetness. As we look at our heroine in "Snatched," she isn't just a wreck being dumped by her humorless rock band boyfriend, she's a genuinely unpleasant person few of us want to spend a whole movie with.
In "Trainwreck" we were being shown the chaotic life of a young hedonist having a bit too much fun in life. In "Snatched" you're forced to sit through the life of a woman who doesn't even deserve to have the minuscule fun she actually has.
It only gets worse when she browbeats her sweet, dignified mother into going to Ecuador with her because her pre-planned vacation is "non-refundable." And when they're kidnapped in a plot involving an impossibly handsome stranger (Tom Bateman), things aren't much improved.
In fact, Schumer's frisky byplay with the handsome stranger is the entire movie's first indication that it intends to be watchable at all. But it never completely proceeds as it goes on, despite the collateral efforts of Wanda Sykes and Joan Cusack.
Just transport yourself to an executive office: Schumer and Hawn as mother and daughter? Wanda Sykes and Joan Cusack in support? How could a film possibly miss?
In almost every way possible," is the truthful answer.
Hawn, especially, almost seems sometimes as if she's a refugee from a decent movie comedy who happened to wander onto the wrong film set.
Give Amy credit for knowing whom to hang out with in front of a camera. Hawn in her maturity (she's 71) has been underemployed for decades. Look at Woody Allen's "Everyone Says I Love You" -- how perfectly she fit into Woody Allen's film universe.
And then ask yourself a great "what if" question: What if Woody Allen had made only a fifth of the movies he wound up making with his former lady love Mia Farrow and four times as many movies with Goldie Hawn? She'd have been his finest co-star since Diane Keaton. And he wouldn't have turned into a tabloid disgrace.
A fruitless inquiry, unfortunately -- just like "What if everyone concerned had resisted making 'Snatched' with the script and the director they wound up with?"
They couldn't resist. It looked too good on paper.
That doesn't mean audiences can't resist it. They can avoid it like the plague, even on Mother's Day weekend. Personally, I'd advise it.
2 stars (out of four)
Starring Amy Schumer, Goldie Hawn, Ike Barinholtz, Wanda Sykes, and Joan Cusack. Directed by Jonathan Levine. Rated R for crude sexual content, brief nudity and language throughout. 90 minutes.