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SNATCHED FROM THE JAWS OF COMEDY

A film starring two A-list comediennes should, at the very least, be funny. Snatched fails on this count but also seems to have other ambitions. It wants to impart some thoughts about mother-daughter relationships and the contrasting goals of women of two generations. This frustrating movie was written by a smart woman, Katie Dippold (whose credits include Parks and Recreation, The Heat and the new Ghostbusters) and directed by savvy filmmaker Jonathan Levine (The Wackness, Fifty-Fifty, Warm Bodies). So how did it go so terribly wrong? I can’t begin to guess.

Amy Schumer plays an obnoxious person who’s just been dumped by her boyfriend. With two non-refundable tickets to Ecuador and no friends who are willing to travel with her, the only solution is to invite her mother, who is scared of practically everything.

Sure enough, the two women are taken prisoner and embark on a wild South American adventure. Their exploits bring them into contact with a variety of supposedly funny characters played by such talented people as Wanda Sykes, Joan Cusack, and Christopher Meloni.

But the tone of the film keeps zigzagging. A heartwarming moment is closely followed by a broad gag that doesn’t pay off, over and over again.

Schumer’s character isn’t as raunchy as she is in her standup routines, and as we saw in her own Trainwreck, she has a solid screen presence. As for Goldie Hawn, it’s nice to see her back onscreen even if she only partially resembles her former, familiar self. Like her costar, she deserves better material than this.

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at leonardmaltin.com. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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