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Throwaway Throwbacks

Snatched and King Arthur

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SNATCHED. When Amy Schumer, building on the success both of her stand-up comedy and subversive, hilarious TV show Inside Amy Schumer, made her first foray into the Hollywood mainstream, she did it like a cagey pro. Teaming with director Judd Apatow, starring and working from her own screenplay, she came out with Trainwreck (2015). The movie draws on the history of romantic comedy every bit as effectively as it does Schumer's unique comic perspective; it services its own story and her persona with equal aptitude. I find it a resoundingly successful effort, and it continues to hold up after multiple viewings. The only "problem" with it might be that it sets too high a bar for Amy Schumer, Movie Star. Perhaps in an attempt to avoid comparison or repetition, Snatched finds Schumer pivoting into an altogether different type of genre comedy picture. It's unfair to assume anything about influences but I can say that Schumer, writer Katie Dippold (The Heat, Ghostbusters) and director Jonathan Levine (50/50, The Night Before) are all of the same generation: my generation. And I know that I was very much influenced, in my long ago youth, by the buddy-adventure comedies of the day. Romancing the Stone (1984) and Outrageous Fortune (1988) are two that spring to mind, as they seem to have informed the makers of Snatched as much as they did me.

Emily (Schumer) — aimless, self-obsessed, borderline unemployable — has booked a South American vacation that she can hardly afford. On the eve of their departure, though, her equally narcissistic rocker boyfriend Michael (Randall Park) informs her that he won't be accompanying her, on vacation or in life. In a fit of nostalgia and loneliness, Emily convinces her neurotic, almost housebound mother, Linda (Goldie Hawn, returning to the screen after a 15-year hiatus), to join her on the trip. Mother and daughter begin to process some of their differences poolside but things start to go sideways after Emily becomes smitten with a handsome stranger (Tom Bateman). In short order, they find themselves on the run through the jungle, pursued by a vicious criminal kingpin (Oscar Jaenada). They are aided — after a fashion — along the way by an inept explorer (Christopher Meloni), a kindly village doctor (Arturo Castro) and a platonic pair with dark pasts (Wanda Sykes and Joan Cusack). Meanwhile, stateside, Emily's socially disastrous brother Jeffrey (Ike Barinholtz) attempts to annoy the US State Department to action.

Snatched takes some risks that most comedies wouldn't: It is violent and foul-mouthed, and centered on a protagonist who isn't exactly likeable. In some of these efforts, the movie succeeds, yielding satisfying laughs. But some of them (an extended sequence about a tapeworm, for example) burn off their energy before the punch line.

Because I like that Schumer continues to defy Hollywood norms and expectations, and because for whatever reason I tend to like her intentionally unlikeable screen persona, it's possible I give her lesser efforts more credit than they are due. That tendency, coupled with nostalgia for the movies of my youth, may have led me to want to enjoy Snatched more than I actually did. Colorful and lively though it may be, it seems doubtful that it will be much remembered. R. 91m. BROADWAY, FORTUNA, MILL CREEK.

KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD. In a later, hazier period of my youth, Guy Ritchie's first two movies loom large, indeed. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) brought dynamism and fun to the often-overwrought, under-written British crime drama. Snatch (2000) re-upped the style and cheekiness of Ritchie's storytelling and may well mark the beginning of the end. His next two movies were basically unwatchable exercises in hubris. He recovered slightly with RockNRolla (2008) but it was derivative, informed by the genre that his early movies seemed be a reaction against. And then he resurfaced as a maker of mega-budget tent poles that don't make a whole lot of sense.

The widespread appeal of his riff on Sherlock Holmes (2009), with its mélange of mixed martial arts, sardonic humor and slow-motion violence, makes sense, I suppose, even if I don't really share in it. (My ambivalence hasn't affected the box office: The second sequel is in the works). And while I enjoyed the fashion and set dressing of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015), it's hard to believe it became a major release. Which makes it an appropriate predecessor to King Arthur, in a way, because I can't understand how anybody thought this would be a good idea.

For one thing, it would seem that the last decade and a half of Peter Jackson's output, plus the total cultural saturation of Game of Thrones, would have provided everyone with more than enough mediocre fantastical medieval set dressing. But someone in an office somewhere apparently thought that if way too much is good, then more is better. Incorrect.

Vortigern (Jude Law) usurps his brother Uther's (Eric Bana) throne. The sword Excalibur becomes set in stone, Uther's son and rightful heir Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) is cast out, to be raised in back alleys and brothels. He goes on — in a lively montage! — to become a brawling back-alley entrepreneur and leader of men. Circumstances lead him to remove said sword from stone, which of course leads to a protracted conflict with his visibly perturbed uncle.

We all know the story, the style of the thing is all over the shop and Hunnam, despite his cracked brand of charisma, isn't the right type of leading man for the job. PG13. 126m. BROADWAY, FORTUNA, MILL CREEK, MINOR.

— John J. Bennett

For showtimes, see the Journal's listings at www.northcoastjournal.com or call: Broadway Cinema 443-3456; Fortuna Theatre 725-2121; Mill Creek Cinema 839-3456; Minor Theatre 822-3456; Richards' Goat Miniplex 630-5000.

Previews

ALIEN COVENANT. A colony ship lands on a hospitable planet only to discover it's crawling with the gleaming exoskeletons of everyone's favorite acid-bleeding, double-mouthed death machines from space. Yass, monstrous egg-laying queen! Starring Michael Fassbender and Katherine Waterston. R. 89m. BROADWAY, FORTUNA, MILL CREEK, MINOR.

EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING. Boy next door meets isolated girl with serious autoimmune disease in this YA adaptation starring Amanda Stenberg and Nick Robinson. PG13. 96m. BROADWAY, MILL CREEK.

DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: THE LONG HAUL. The luckless protagonist (Jason Drucker) lobbies for a family road trip so he can hit a video game convention and things go sideways. PG. 91m. BROADWAY, FORTUNA, MILL CREEK.

NORMAN. Richard Gere stars as a small-time political operator in over his head with a big-time politician. With Lior Ashkenazi. R. 91m. MINOR.

MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL (1975). John Cleese and the rest of the knights bring the Spam, coconuts and the shrubberies on the world's most quotable quest. PG. 91m. BROADWAY.

Continuing

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. The cast, style and scale are impressive, but the moody darkness and slow pacing of this live-action/CG fairytale reboot seems tailored for nostalgic grownups more than kids. Starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens. PG13. 100m. BROADWAY, MILL CREEK.

THE BOSS BABY. Fresh from SNL, Alec Baldwin voices another business-minded infant in this animated comedy about corporate intrigue. With Steve Buscemi. PG. 97m. BROADWAY.

THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS. The juggernaut keeps rolling with explosions, crashes, nutty car chases, submarines and, at last, the action sequence Jason Statham deserves. Starring Dwayne Johnson, Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez. PG13. 160m. BROADWAY.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2. This buoyant, funny follow-up to Marvel's trip to space with a motley crew of outlaws and misfits is surprisingly heartfelt — like a love-letter from writer-director James Gunn to the material and its fans. PG13. 136m. BROADWAY, FORTUNA, MILL CREEK, MINOR.

MY ENTIRE HIGH SCHOOL SINKING INTO THE SEA. An animated comedy about an earthquake shaking a school into the ocean where it drifts and sinks like a ship. With Jason Schwartzman. PG13. 75m. MINIPLEX.

A QUIET PASSION. Cynthia Nixon stars in a biopic about reclusive poet Emily Dickinson, which makes sense because she was such a Miranda. PG13. 125m. MINIPLEX.

SLEIGHT. A sharp street magician turns to crime to take care of his sister and must use his skills and wit to save her when she's kidnapped. Starring Jacob Latimore, Seychelle Gabriel and Dulé Hill. R. 89m. BROADWAY.

UNCERTAIN. Documentary about a remote town named Uncertain, Texas, its eccentric characters and their checkered pasts. NR. 82m. MINIPLEX.

— Jennifer Fumiko Cahill

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