“I don’t want to bring down the President of the United States of America. It’s an assassination of sorts.”
So says Thomas Grady (Zach McGowan) well into Snapshot’s very perplexing 85 minutes, thus laying out for us the thorny moral dilemma at the center of the film. What power does this simple photographer have over the leader of the free world? He has inadvertently snapped a picture of the First Lady’s genitals. Foolishly going commando, the First Lady (Joyce DeWitt, of “Three’s Company” fame) slipped down the stairs, where Thomas was at the right place at the right time to catch a full-blown “Britney Shot,” to use the movie’s term. Thomas is offered a small fortune for the picture by an unsavory tabloid dealer. Meanwhile he is also being hounded by the media, which knows the picture exists but has not yet seen it.
Now, as premises for low-budget trash go, this one isn’t so bad — it would probably make for a pretty good episode of “Veep” — except that, rather than playing this material for its inherently comedic potential, Snapshot bizarrely considers itself some kind of ethical-thriller-slash-father-son-redemption-story. The latter may owe to the fact that the makers of Snapshot offered whatever the going daily rate is to snag Robert Loggia as Thomas’s father, a crusty old fart who looks down on any profession that isn’t fireman.
I guess there is some comment on How We ‘Gram Now to be gleaned from this idea, but Snapshot has a hilariously backwards view of the media landscape (traditional, digital, and social). Even the idea that Thomas is able to maintain any control over the photograph — which is restricted to a single SD card — when so many people know about it may be a necessary convenience for the screenplay, but it seems hopelessly quaint in a post-Fappening world. Snapshot’s last-minute stab at any sort of relevance, a scene in which the President announces he has signed the “Privacy in Technology Act,” plays as little more than a non sequitur.
Snapshot does generate a bit of inadvertent humor from its incompetence, which is about all you can hope for from this sort of thing. For one, it’s amusing how “The President” and “The First Lady” are always and only referred to by their titles, never by their names. But Snapshot’s most hilarious element is the effusive praise Thomas receives for his incredibly boring photographs, most of which are lousy celebrity shots clearly printed off from a quick Google Image search. And then there is the final image of the movie, which I think is meant to represent Thomas’s “artistic” photographic style, except I’m not sure because it is the most mundane shot of a Dasani water bottle you could possibly imagine.
Snapshot does contain one moment of intentional humor, its final line, a kind of dumb little shock-tag like “A Boy and His Dog”’s infamous “good taste” punchline. But, whereas you might argue that that line ruins “A Boy and His Dog” with a cheap, vulgar pun, Snapshot has nothing to ruin.