Trainwreck, Reviewed

22 Jul


  • Trainwreck currently has a rating of 85 on Rotten Tomatoes and has gotten favorable reviews from most critics (the great Will Leitch, one of my favorite writers and movie critics, ranked it as the third greatest Judd Apatow movie ever, ahead of films like Superbad and Knocked Up). Amy Schumer is brilliant and funny, as is her co-star, Bill Hader, and Apatow needs no praising from me. Trainwreck is a movie I was expecting to enjoy.
  • The movie goes on for 122 minutes. After about 90 I started yawning and looking at my watch. My fiancé (god, I hate that word), who I saw the movie with, felt the same way.
  • I have many problems with the film. For one, it’s just not that funny. A few bits made me laugh — that most of them involved LeBron James doesn’t speak well for the movie. In fact, James and the exaggerated version of himself he plays — a sappy, cheap, Dowton Abby-watching LeBron James — provides the movie with its best scenes. The only other memorable ones involve Colin Quinn, who plays Schumer’s cranky and racist dad and is also the one responsible for teaching her that “monogamy isn’t realistic.” The scene where this line is delivered, along with an explanation why which involves comparing marriage to playing with just one doll for your entire life, is the film’s strongest.
  • Other than those, though, nothing hits. There are some decent penis and oral sex jokes and Schumer does a walk-of-shame bit that involves her having to take the ferry home from Staten Island one morning, but there’s nothing original about it. I found the one that Jonah Hill wrote for 22 Jump Street much funnier.

  • Oh yeah, Marv Albert is brought in at one point to help dole out relationship advice. Marv Albert once pleaded guilty to assault and battery for an incident where, among other things, he forced a woman to perform oral sex on him and also bit her in the back. This did not seem to bother Schumer and Apatow.
  • So here’s what Trainwreck is: A 122-minute not-quite-comedy about a woman dealing with the scars that a philandering father left her. Will she figure out that all her sleeping around is really just a defense mechanism and eventually give it a shot with Mr. Right? You know the answer is, Yes, but let’s spend two hours taking you on that journey anyway. It’s okay for movies to have predictable endings — Apatow’s best films, like 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up all do — but if you’re going to follow a common trope you better make that journey an interesting one. That means an interesting and complex and, perhaps most important of all, likable protagonist. Trainwreck does not have one.
  • At no point in the film do I find myself rooting for Schumer’s character. At no point did I find myself feeling sorry for her, either. Schumer, who wrote the film, and Apatow, who directed it, also fail to explain why exactly Bill Hader’s Mr. Perfect would fall for this woman. He tells us he loves her but we never see why. She makes him laugh and is different and had sex with him on their first date. That’s all we know. At no point do we see a deeper side to her. Trainwreck does that move where it has Hader and Schumer both apologize to each other and take responsibility for the relationship initially falling apart. But I don’t remember seeing Hader do anything wrong. The last time I felt this way about a popular character in a popular movie was with Kristiin Wiig in Bridesmaids, another film that makes me feel like Mugatu.

  • Maybe I’m kind of a sexist and don’t realize it and just have a problem with female comedy leads. I don’t know. But whether it’s Seth Rogan in Knocked Up or Steve Carrell in 40 Year old Virgin, Apatow’s best movies involve protagonist who I feel empathy for. His worst, like Funny People, usually feature narcissistic wimp who spends most of the film complaining and blaming everyone else. Trainwreck falls into that second category. I was expecting it to be something else.

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