Judd Apatow’s latest film, Trainwreck is now in theaters but make no mistake, this is Amy Schumer’s movie. She wrote it, she stars in it, and it’s filled with her honest, social-conventions-be-damned brand of humor. The 34 year old stand-up comedian is refreshingly real and though she previously appeared on Last Comic Standing and currently has her own sketch-comedy show on Comedy Central (Inside Amy Schumer), this is the vehicle that will make her a star and introduce her to the masses.
Amy plays Amy, a journalist at a men’s magazine who was taught at an early age (in a hilarious opening scene with Colin Quinn) that monogamy just isn’t realistic. She grows up and does whatever she wants; she drinks, smokes weed, and bangs who she pleases. She treats guys like Kleenex, is unapologetic, and has a deep fear of commitment. Her sister Kim (Brie Larson) is happily married with a kid, and that’s the last thing Amy wants for herself. All is good until she’s assigned to interview Aaron (Bill Hader), a super nice, straight-laced sports doctor. Amy isn’t particularly fond of sports (“sports are stupid and anybody who likes them is just a lesser person”) but she hits it off with Aaron and it puts a snag in her promiscuous lifestyle.
Hader is a perfect complement to Schumer. They have an easy chemistry and their contrasting characters play well together. Hader even makes Lebron look good. Yes, this is the big screen debut of NBA superstar Lebron James. I’m guessing that more people know this film as “the movie that Lebron’s in” than Trainwreck. To be fair, that’s what I called it until I saw the trailer a few times.
I’ll admit, I was not looking forward to seeing Lebron on the big screen, as many athletes, musicians, and other non-actors often come off as amateurs (because they are) and take you out of a movie. James isn’t the only athlete in the film, Amar’e Stoudamire (basketball) and John Cena (wrestling) also have small roles. Believe it or not, they all come off well. There is a bit of overracting (as expected) but for the most part they bring the laughs and get by thanks to the writing and their co-stars.
The writing is great. There’s a lot of funny lines and the movie is a fun watch. The story isn’t deep, and it eventually bows to standard rom-com formula, but Trainwreck doesn’t rely on an overabundance of gross-out gags like so many modern comedies. It does suffer from the Apatow curse though. The Apatow curse is the flipside of the Apatow gift. The gift being the director’s constant effort to make substantial comedies–movies that aren’t just funny, but also strive for quality. Apatow doesn’t just want to entertain you, he also wants to say something meaningful about the human experience. In his attempts to do so, his pictures often run too long. This is the fifth movie he’s directed and his second shortest at 122 minutes. Most comedies run 90-100 minutes. Here’s a list of the other movies he directed and their runtimes:
The 40 Year Old Virgin– Theatrical- 116 minutes Unrated- 133 minutes
Knocked Up– 129 minutes
Funny People– 146 minutes
This Is 40– 134 minutes
To be honest, I don’t love any of the movies listed above, but I like them and I like what he’s trying to do. Apatow has been attached to a lot of good movies, but he hasn’t had a great one yet. I think he has one (or more) in him and at some point he’ll hit all the right notes. Trainwreck is a nice line on the resume and a step in the right direction. Speaking of direction, his is restrained; the camera doesn’t do anything fancy and there are long periods without any music. He lets the script and the talent shine and provides Amy Schumer with the perfect opportunity to do her thing.
3.5 out of 5 Nerdskulls
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