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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Blu-ray Review: 'Trainwreck'

The hilarious Amy Schumer/Judd Apatow comedy looks and sound great, but 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. At least the home release more than makes up for its failures in story, with great audio/video and a deep collection of supplements. The Movie - 4/5
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 Video - 4.5/5
Trainwreck arrives via Universal with a very good MPEG-4/AVC transfer. It appears the film was shot using traditional methods and then upgraded to 1080p, but you'd never know it. Grain is fine but never interferes with color, depth, or clarity. Skin pores, wrinkles, and individual strands of hair can be easily seen, while sets show chips in paint and even spaces between boards at MSG. Colors and skin tones are lifelike, with blacks and shadows playing nicely with each other. There's zero evidence of banding, aliasing, or edge enhancement, further demonstrating Universal's unswerving commitment to all of their films regardless of genre, not just a few select tentpoles. The Audio - 4/5
Like a well-hung man, Trainwreck's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless soundtrack rises to the occasion. Music plays a large role in the film, and its bass-heavy beats are carried through quite well in all speakers. A film like this doesn't usually carry a lot of environmental sounds, but what is presented does a good job of immersing the listener. It's not a and office place din. A basketball court sequence in chapter 11 brings the squeaky shoes, weighty dribbles, and mildly reverberating dialogue to life. General dialogue enjoys firm center placement, precise articulation, and consistent prioritization. The track doesn't have any "wow!" moments, but it's quite good at conveying all of the film's basics and intricacies alike. The Supplements - 4.5/5
Trainwreck contains a large and diverse set of extras, including a commentary track. There are also two versions of the film: the Theatrical Version (2:04:45) and the Unrated Version (2:08:46). Some items here are only in 480i, but that's acceptable, given the sheer amount of offerings and the space considerations on a BD.
  • Audio Commentary: With Director Judd Apatow, Writer/Star Amy Schumer, and Associate Producer Kim Caramele: This is an entertaining and informative look inside the film. Schumer and Apatow sound like they had fun working on the project, as that energy comes out in this commentary.
  • Deleted Scenes: Nikki's Dream (available as V1-Plane Teeth [1:55] and V2-Japan [1:48]), Bar App (1:58), Amy Calls Kim (1:26), The Morning After (1:42), Ryan Phillippe (2:20), Percentage (3:41), Drunk Horse (8:46), Guys' Fantasy (3:16), Minivan Nightmare (0:54), Doctors With Borders (1:39), Amy Gets Grilled (2:03), Prostitute (3:02), Steven & Lorenz (4:50), Amy & Schultz (2:45), Goodbye (1:33), Happily Ever After (1:17), and Cleveland (1:12).
  • Extended/Alternate Scenes: Amy & Allister (1:21), S'nuff Pitches (6:53), Steven Sex (6:28), LeBron's Glasses (2:40), Breakup (6:06), The Doctor's Place (2:54), Lunch with LeBron (6:46), Baby Talk (4:44), Skeletons in the Closet (4:24), Amare's Post Op (2:24), Pleasure Chest (2:51), and Fired (1:49).
  • Secrets of the Wu (2:21): The actors discuss the importance of the Wu-Tang Clan in the film.
  • The Dogwalker (480i): One of the best parts of the film, the scenes from the film are put together into a Part 1 (2:06) and a Part 2 (2:01).
  • Gag Reel: These are also placed into a Part 1 (6:37) and Part 2 (6:03).
  • Line-O-Rama (1080p): Again, there's a Part 1 (5:18) and something called a Steven-O-Rama (2:51).
  • Directing Athletes: A Blood Sport (1080p): The various athletes who appear in the film discuss working with Apatow and the cats. Apatow discusses working with the athlete actors.
  • Behind-the-Scenes (480i): This is the only one I wish were 1080p, but instead we get a 480i version with various behind-the-scenes featurettes. Sections include Amy & Family (14:33), Dance (12:12), Cena (13:49), Norman (11:58), Tilda (4:10), Athletes (7:48), S'Nuff (4:31), The Dogwalker (3:48), Horse Carriage (7:04), Rapping with Method Man (2:12), and Norman & Method Man Talk Music (7:16). It's perhaps the best part of the package, but space considerations apparently required the lesser quality.
  • Trainwreck Comedy Tour: The cast and crew travel to pimp the movie. We see stops in Boston (1080i, 2:23), Toronto (1080p, 4:22), Toronto: Judd & Colin (1080p, 5:35), Chicago (1080p, 3:53), Seattle (3:14), and Los Angeles (4:46). There's also a radio special: SiriusXM Town Hall: Seattle (1080p, 53:12).
  • Red Band Trailer (1080p, 3:03): Our evaluation copy arrived as a Blu-ray/DVD Combo, with a voucher for a UV/iTunes digital copy. The Bottom Line - 4/5
    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. The video and audio are exceptional, and the supplements deep; it's a solid buy, if you can get past the runtime(s). 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.
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