Tuesday, July 21, 2015

[Review] Trainwreck

Director Judd Apatow has been on a "meh" streak lately. Between Funny People and This is 40, his film's tendencies of getting overlong, disjointed, and tonally inconsistent became most apparent. The Amy Schumer-starring Trainwreck is better than those, but it still falters.

After some childhood flashbacks ("Monogamy isn't realistic!"), we meet Amy (Schumer). She describes herself as a "very sexual girl" and likes to smang around during no-attachment one-night-stands, and nothing really impresses her. During the day, she works for a magazine publication and is given an assignment to do a profile on an athletic doctor named Aaron (Bill Hader). In romantic comedy fashion, a relationship develops between the two. The narrative doesn't necessarily subvert the tropes, but it at least plays around slightly with themes of gender roles and double standards to a certain point.

There are a handful of scenes that don't really build to much or push the story ahead, whether it's just plain character introductions, or awkward episodes of raunch with a few funny lines (notably one of the good ones in which Amy's current man toy (played by John Cena) gets in an argument with someone in a movie theater). While mildly entertaining, these still reflect Apatow's problems with length and pacing. The film reaches two hours, and about 30 minutes pass before it seems like the story is actually going anywhere. A couple questionable moments toward the end would've been fine getting axed. The way the film is overstuffed and how it meanders around gives off the impression that this should've been trimmed down to be a more concise feature, or maybe it might've worked better in a Netflix series format a la "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt".

We have a solid, long and diverse cast list here. Aside from the aforementioned, Brie Larson, Mike Birbiglia, Ezra Miller, Method Man, Tilda Swinton, and LeBron James make appearances. John Cena gives an amusing turn, although his performance isn't all that surprising coming from a bold WWE star. The real standout and least expected of the bunch is definitely LeBron James (In case you didn't know, he's kind of a big deal in the NBA, and hasn't really been in movies). He demonstrates some nice comic timing and he doesn't come off flat (you've all seen how bad some athletes can be in commercials and whatnot). There's a scene that contains LeBron casually reciting lyrics from Kanye West's "Gold Digger" and it's a standout. A number of other athletes also show up, and it's quite humorous how Amare Stoudemire's oft injured and surgically repaired knee practically becomes a metaphor for Amy and Aaron's relationship.

Trainwreck is a mess, but it's enjoyable enough to not completely fall under the pun-provoking weight of its title.


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