Tuesday, July 21, 2015
When you title your movie "Trainwreck," you're opening yourself up to a lot of easy jokes. Luckily, Amy Schumer and Judd Apatow prove to be a mostly winning combo here, with Schumer writing the script and Apatow directing. It centers on a woman, named Amy (and played by Amy), who grows up with a rather skewed perception when it comes to monogamy, dating men, sex, etc. In that, she doesn't believe in monogamy and likes to have sex with lots of different men. During the day, she works as a journalist for a men's magazine and gets assigned to write a piece about a sports doctor named Dr. Aaron Conners (Bill Hader). Amy finds herself unusually drawn to the doctor and gets to the point where she finds herself reconsidering her long held beliefs against monogamy.
The movie's setup is like the inverse of "The 40 Year-Old Virgin" in many ways. Steve Carell can't get laid to save his life in Apatow's debut feature where as Amy's having sex left and right in "Trainwreck." Both films take a humorous look at the sexual and romantic lives of their lead characters, and while the setups are on opposite ends of the spectrum, they both sort-of come together in similar ways. Steve Carell's Andy finds his soulmate and marries her, Amy hasn't necessarily found her soulmate but she's willing to take a chance on love with the doctor.
So I guess it's not a surprise when I say that "Trainwreck" is Apatow's funniest movie since "Virgin." Both films are extremely perceptive when it comes to sex, love, and romance. "Trainwreck" has an even more personal viewpoint as it features voiceover narration from the main character. "Trainwreck" is often a purely laugh-out-loud comedy, thanks to spirited performances from wrestler Jon Cena, basketball player Lebron James, as well as comedians Colin Quinn and Mike Birbiglia. Brie Larson, who plays Amy's sister, is also strong though she doesn't get to have quite as much fun as the rest. And the movie has a surprising turn from Tilda Swinton who plays Amy's overly-tanned mean boss.
It's nice to see a more focused outing from Apatow after his last two films kind of meandered for well over two hours. That said, and this is just something we'll probably have to live with, "Trainwreck" could've been tightened up considerably. There are a few too many scenes that go on much longer than they need to, long after the central joke stops being funny. In fact, there are a handful of moments that kinda fall flat on their face, and every once in awhile a character will make a side comment/joke/aside at the end of a scene that you wish they'd just cut out. Like in the beginning of a sad funeral scene, a character played by Vanessa Bayer hits on a man sitting in front of her. Moments like that just landed with a thud. Five movies in though, maybe this is just who Judd Apatow is. "The 40 Year Old Virgin" contains several scenes that go on longer than they needed to. Luckily then, the script was so damn good that it hardly mattered. But since then, it seems to be a recurring problem in his work, especially his last three movies. Ah well, what can you do? It's just a shame as I don't think he realizes just how much better these movies could be if he were a little harder on himself.
"Trainwreck" goes down your usual rom-com path with your characters falling in love, then having a fight, then making up. But it takes forever to finally get to those moments. It takes a long while before you finally meet Bill Hader's character, and so much goes by before the leads kiss and make up that the movie really struggles to recapture a momentum that allows the final sequence to really shine. Granted, there are a lot of great and funny moments peppered throughout the film. There's never a moment where it feels like it has lagged to the point where the whole film's completely derailed. Never goes that far.
I've seen and read some people come away from "Trainwreck" not so enthused with how it turns out. Some wanted Amy Schumer's crazy sexual flag to run wild and free for all two hours. But, the way I look at it, this is merely Schumer's take on the modern-day romantic comedy and if Apatow had just tightened a few screws, this could've honestly have been one of the few rom-com classics of our era. Instead, it settles between "pretty good" and "almost great." I'll take it.