Monday, August 3, 2015

Amazing Amy

Year: 2015
Director: Judd Apatow
Cast: Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, LeBron James
Run Time: 2 hours 5 minutes
MPAA Rating: R

Fall to your trembling knees, peasants! The great Judd Apatow has returned to the director’s chair at long last, after a long period of cinematic drought, in which hardly any overgrown manchildren were foisted upon an unsuspecting public! Perhaps you detect a hint of irreverence here. It might interest you to know that I feel the man peaked as a director with The 40-Year-Old Virgin. It’s all downhill from here, folks.

Now, Trainwreck is certainly the most intriguing recent film of his directorial oeuvre for two reasons: 1) The script was not written by himself, and 2) the script was written by and stars a woman, Amy Schumer, 2015’s red-hot comedian. Both of these things are a first for Apatow and I respect his branching out.

Probably as a reaction to the heavy-duty misogynist accusations I leveled against him naught but last Monday. He works fast.

In Trainwreck, Amy (Amy Schumer) is a commitment-phobic purveyor of harlotry. While she sleeps her way through the Manhattan phone book, her job at a bro-y magazine sends her to interview Aaron (Bill Hader), a well-to-do sports physician. Despite her congenital hatred of sports and monogamy, they begin to fall in love of all things. How will these two crazy kids ever make it work?

Trainwreck pretty closely adheres to the Apatow ill-adjusted manchild formula, just copy-pasting a vagina where applicable. It’s well-worn territory and it falls prey to the exact same pitfalls as every other of his films, but with a new voice at the wheel of the script, at least the jokes feel fresh.

Though it must have taken years to clear out the odor of stale pot fumes.

“Yes, that’s all fine and dandy,” you say, tapping your well-manicured fingernails on your desk, “But here’s the important thing: Is Trainwreck funny?”

If you’re really in a hurry, I’ll give it to you straight: Yes. And your cuticles look great.

Alright, now that we’ve got those pushy, well-groomed bastards taken care of, let’s dive into things in a little more detail, shall we? There are a lot of laugh-out-loud funny moments in Trainwreck, some irreverent, some ribald, some just plain surreal, but the two funniest people in the film –Schumer and Hader – are woefully underserved by the script, Hader especially. His considerable talents are poured into what must be the Guinness world record holder for most skim milk, white bread, boring ass straight man role ever conceived, and Schumer keeps on forcing herself into prototypical rom-com scenarios, only occasionally managing to convince us that she isn’t enjoying herself.

The real standouts of the film are a variety of Apatowian fringe regulars (including my BFF Randall Park) and three utterly shocking, bewildering, and unrestrainedly hilarious, left-field performances from (in ascending order) John Cena, LeBron James, and Tilda “Motherf***ing Space Queen” Swinton. Cena pulls out all the stops in a fearless turn as Amy’s clueless musclehead boyfriend, James effortlessly switches between intimidating mountain lion and doe-eyed screwball as Aaron’s best friend, an Swinton is sharp as a tack and unrecognizable with laceratingly perfect comic timing as Amy’s acid-tongued boss.

Thus, in typical Judd fashion, does the comedy seep in from around the edges of the film instead of naturally flowing from the center. It’s a flawed, herky-jerky delivery system but it gets results.

Kind of like when I go bowling.

So, yes, Trainwreck is funny, which is pretty essential for any comedy (It’s nuggets of cinematic wisdom like this that keep my avid readers coming back). But when the film lunges toward treacly emotion, it stumbles. Much like Katherine Heigl in Knocked Up before her, Schumer proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that she has the acting chops to pull off the dramatic scenes that are handed to her on a silver platter, but fails to satisfactorily answer the question of why they’re there in the first place. Their sheer profusion bites into Trainwreck like a rabid dog, tearing its pacing to shreds and rendering its tight, generic plot periodically aimless, hopelessly unspooling past the two-hour mark.

Brevity is the soul of wit, and 125 minutes is the soul of making my damn bladder implode. If nobody gets on Apatow about his grotesquely overlong comedy run times soon, I’m going to have to go vigilante and sneak into his editing bay with a giant electromagnet to cull what I possibly can. But hey, Trainwreck is an alright time at the movies, even if it’s a longer one than you may have bargained for.

TL;DR: Trainwreck is overlong and generic, but features some terrific, out-of-left-field performances from unexpected actors.
Rating: 6/10
Should I Spend Money On This? Sure, grab a matinee. Movie theaters have free air conditioning.
Word Count: 806

1 comment:

  1. Trainwreck: 125 min.
    Star Wars: 125 min.

    Anyway, it's probably pretty good. My girlfriend went without me to go see it--she routinely misinterprets things I say like "Amy Schumer is funny, but her show is repetitive, literally the same joke five times each episode," as, I think, some kind of soft-pedaling, and I actually dislike it. Pity, since I wanted to see it as much as I do any other comedy this year. (Which is to say, not an awful lot...)

    I guess I'll get around to it eventually!