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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Movie Review: #Trainwreck

The hilarious Amy Schumer/Judd Apatow comedy needs an edit.

Review by Matt Cummings

If there's one thing that can be said about the Amy Schumer/Judd Apatow comedy Trainwreck, it's that it lovingly shows how hot-mess relationships can come clean and eventually endure. Unfortunately, its long runtime reduces what could have been the comedy of the year.

As a child of divorce, Amy (Amy Schumer) has been raised to believe that "monogamy isn't realistic," leading to a series of one-night stands that could establish a record in New York City. Prone to drinking, swearing, and generally making bad choices, Amy is a hot mess, until she meets the orthopedic surgeon Aaron (Bill Hader), as calm and normal as they come. Soon, Amy begins to fall in love with him, appreciating his down-to-earth style even though he rubs elbows with some of the finest athletes in sports (including LeBron James). But when a death in family further separates Amy from her sister (Brie Larson), Amy's relationship also takes a plunge, sending her on a downward spiral that only she can pull herself out.

Trainwreck features some of the best comedy of the year, allowing Schumer and several SNL alums the chance to strut their creative stuff. In many ways, we're witnessing comedic mastery unfold in many scenes, with Schumer directing traffic like a skilled cop. Her performance pops off the screen, as if her debut was just itching to get out. She is a breath of fresh air: larger than most wafer-thin actresses in Hollywood these days and missing their overly stylish perfection, Trainwreck paints Amy as horribly-flawed with a relationship phobia as big as New York. This might sound like I'm knocking her down, but it's quite the opposite. I appreciate her for those perceived shortcomings because it gives Amy a more realistic bend, especially when she's on her way down. Schumer is also hilarious, sporting dresses so short they look like she's missing pants and behaving quite out of control when it comes to sticking around after getting laid.

Hader proves that he can be a likable leading man, and that his time on SNL was well-spent. He should quickly become the poster boy for Apatow's laugh-out-loud comedic blueprint that makes today's Rom-Coms more palatable for guys. My other favorite is the least likely: LeBron James succeeds (as well as an athlete comedian can) and is actually funny in the several scenes between he and Hader. His overly sensitive persona as a man obsessed with Aaron's happiness is pitch perfect and never seems to go overboard. Tilda Swinson plays Amy's socially out-of-touch boss with the sort of jerk perfection you've come to expect from her, while the SNL troupe that includes Vanessa Bayer and Colin Quinn have their moments in the sun.

Director Judd Apatow does the best thing he can do with the script from Schumer, allowing her to 'McCarthy' it with plenty of ad-libs while keeping the predictable story intact. Yes, we all know how this is going to play out, but it's the comedy and performances that outweigh the sense that we've seen this before from other Apatow films like This is 40.

But allow me to be clear: Apatow has got to learn how to edit his movies. At 125 minutes, Trainwreck is way too long; the ending is really two (or even three), prancing beyond its effectiveness for additional laughs without realizing its original intent. There's examples of that all over the film, and it absolutely reduces my appreciation for it. Apatow could be the John Hughes of our time, bringing 40-somethings along for the ride while effectively portraying all the problems long-term relationships encounter. Instead, he consistently forgets that comedy is sometimes better in smaller doses, almost as if he thinks he's got something to prove.

The bigger question behind Trainwreck will be if audiences come to accept a sexually-available woman in the same way they accept a sexually-available man. The comedy is excellent, but its long runtime doesn't make an effective case for Amy's lifestyle. In many ways, a woman as prone to drinking and screwing as her should be in jail and without a lot of career options short of stripping and hooking. Had the story focused on this self-destructive behavior from the start, it would have made Amy's fall more realistic. Instead, it looks like someone fell off the wagon and hilariously screwed a ton on guys on the way down.

Trainwreck is rated R for strong sexual content, nudity, language and some drug use and has a runtime of 125 minutes.

Discuss this review with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.

1 comments :

Thomas Watson July 20, 2015 at 6:51 PM  

It is an intelligent commentary on modern relationships.

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