Tuesday, June 30, 2015

“Trainwreck”– Movie Review



This week, I attended a New York Times Film Club screening of the new comedy “Trainwreck”, starring Amy Schumer and Bill Hader and directed by Judd Apatow.


When a profligate woman finally meets a man who wants a serious relationship with her, can she settle down enough to prove she’s worthy?


Amy (Schumer) is an attractive, ambitious young lady who parties just as hard as she works -- in fact, maybe even more so. Nearly every night, she gets drunk and enjoys a one-night-stand with a different man; despite this, she half-heartedly has been regularly dating a man whom she considers her “boyfriend” -- however, once he learns that she’s been sleeping around, he breaks it off with her. As a staff writer for a men’s magazine, Amy is assigned a plum job: to interview Aaron (Hader) for an article in a future issue.  An up-and-coming surgeon specializing in sports-related injuries, Aaron is gaining a reputation for having operated on some of the more famous professional athletes.

Treating the assignment with some dread since she’s not a sports fan, Amy nevertheless sees this as an opportunity to advance herself at the magazine. She and Aaron wind up socializing one night; predictably, Amy has too much to drink at dinner, resulting in she and Aaron having sex at his place. He becomes smitten with Amy and the two continue dating with Aaron under the impression they are in a serious relationship that may lead to a permanent commitment. Amy, on the other hand, is bewildered by why this guy is hanging on to her and is just waiting for him to dump her.

Despite Amy’s behavior, Aaron sticks by her even through some of her toughest moments and proves to be the best friend she’s ever had. Eventually, Amy’s married sister meets Aaron and resoundingly approves -- but Amy remains confused about what Aaron is doing with a woman like her. Then, Amy shows her selfish, thoughtless side to Aaron, finally causing the break-up. This severely impacts their professional life as both suffer significant career setbacks. But when Amy eventually realizes she’s truly in love with Aaron, will she be able to change sufficiently to win him back?


Amy Schumer is not only among the funniest of the currently active group of comediennes, she is also, arguably, the most courageous. If you have ever had the pleasure of seeing either her stand-up act or her Comedy Central television show, you understand just exactly how brave she is with her material. Perhaps this is what ultimately makes “Trainwreck” something of a disappointment -- she really plays it way too safe in her debut movie, possibly under the guidance and recommendation of director Judd Apatow. Schumer wrote the screenplay, but structurally, Apatow may have influenced the work to be more of a traditional story. 

If, as a Schumer fan, you were expecting something like a “Hangover”-style comedy, then there is a strong likelihood that you may be rather let down by “Trainwreck”; Schumer is not as edgy or taking as many chances as she does either in her stand-up or television show. The formula in the story is that of taking an obnoxious protagonist and have her undergo so much of an emotional or psychological beating that the audience will eventually wind up empathizing with her and as a result rooting for her. Where this can sometimes backfire is whether the audience is ready and willing to forgive her for her past transgressions, regardless of how funny some of them may have been (watch out for the Clevelend Cavaliers’ LeBron James stealing one scene after another) .

Part of what throws “Trainwreck” considerably off balance is that it takes rather dramatic turns after starting out as an outlandish comedy; this proves problematic especially when the story tries to get back on track as a comedy. Sometimes, when a movie that is primarily a comedy veers off in a more dramatic direction, an audience can feel a bit of resentment; the reaction that can happen is that of being sold a bill of goods (“Hey, you tricked me into thinking this was going to be some kind of off-the-wall comedy when much of it is so serious!”). Will you have that response? Maybe not. The audience attending this screening was predominantly young women and generally speaking, they seemed to find this film to be uproariously funny.


Trainwreck (2015) on IMDb

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