Comedy is completely subjective. People have to realize that before expecting someone to enjoy something they find funny just because they enjoy it. There have been instances of critically-acclaimed comedies that haven’t tickled my funny bone and there have also been examples of comedies that were panned that somehow managed to get some huge laughs out of me (Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is the biggest example I can recall). However, one thing I never do is decide to like or dislike a film before I even see it. On IMDB, this film currently holds a 3.1/10. That is just absurd. People who hate the star of this film as a person see fit to rate this movie low since she is in it. That’s it. While I may tend to agree that sometimes Amy Schumer can get a little hypocritical or unnecessarily vindictive, I don’t see her as a monster and it certainly doesn’t cloud my judgment of her film work. That having been said, let’s objectively dive into her latest comedy flick.
After a rather awkward break-up with her boyfriend (Randall Park), Emily Middleton (Amy Schumer) is forced to find a replacement to accompany her on a previously-planned trip to Ecuador. After running into a number of excuses from her friends on social media, she finally convinces her mother (Goldie Hawn) to join her on the “vacation.” Unfortunately, this break from society turns sour when she and her mother are kidnapped by some ne’er-do-wells, who demand ransom from Emily’s awkward agoraphobic brother Jeffrey (Ike Barinholtz). Emily and her mother make their way through South America while running into various colourful characters as they try to avoid their kidnappers and find their way back to safety.
This is some pretty high-concept stuff, which I will admit right off the bat. Take Amy Schumer, arguably one of the biggest names in comedy at this point in time and combine her with Goldie Hawn, who had quite the reputation for making the most of any role she portrayed in her time as well. Put them in a fish-out-of-water situation like two city girls being in South America. Now give them a complicated and somewhat-troubled mother/daughter relationship. Throw in some female empowerment stuff. You have this film. Yet, the biggest problem with the movie is just that. This is a film that rests on its laurels a bit too much. It sets up the concept and then doesn’t attempt any real home run material.
One could argue that you can’t really blame the creative team behind this movie because Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn certainly have the right amount of chemistry and they are very talented comic actors, which should be enough to carry a serviceable plot. Schumer creates a very similar character to the one she portrayed in Trainwreck and has the same kind of crass exterior that she uses to hide her psychological flaws. That sounds a bit too deep for a silly comedy but Schumer pulls it off. Goldie is a character who has five locks on her door and is paranoid at times but inexplicably also shows no fear when being kidnapped via keeping herself distracted.
Another argument that can be made is that the side characters get some of the biggest laughs. The subplot involving Ike Barinholtz trying to contact the State Department and pissing off the agent that keeps answering the phone gets a few laughs thanks to Ike’s committed performance and his oddball delivery. Wanda Sykes and Joan Cusack as fellow travellers and “platonic life partners” are worth a couple of chuckles as well despite being kinda pointless overall. The best stuff comes from Christopher Meloni as a “wise” traveller who helps Schumer and Hawn. There doesn’t seem to be much to his character at first but some late-in-the-game revelations about his real life skills provides some decent laughs. Even Randall Park in his brief appearance gets one of the movie’s funniest scenes when breaking up with Schumer because he’s making it big with his band.
There are some lessons to be learned within the film about family and sticking together, getting your life together, standing up for yourself and others but none of them really land that hard because they are presented in rather typical silly comedy hackneyed fashion. The humour is there and lands some of the time but it’s not consistent enough for the film to remain funny throughout nor is it worth anymore than a quick watch on a rainy afternoon.
RATING: ** ½
Less than * (Actively offensive to one’s intelligence)
* (Brutal; bottom-of-the-barrel)
** (Some elements keep it from being awful but still not very good)
*** (Completely watchable; a rental as old-timers might say)
**** (Great film with a few things here and there keeping it from being perfect)
***** (Flawless; a true achievement)