‘Trainwreck’ is a Staggering Drunk of a Movie

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Over the past couple years, Amy Schumer has earned her place as one of the most important comedians working together with her show Inside Amy Schumer, which masterfully combines blistering social commentary with solid, gut-busting laughs. And over the past 20 years, Judd Apatow has earned his place in the world of comedy as a writer, director, and producer. As a director, Apatow’s output has be waning; Funny People was half a good movie and This is 40 was simply tedious. So when news broke that the Apatow would be directing a script by Schumer, there was optimism. Here we have a vital young voice and a director needing to find his groove again. Maybe Trainwreck would revitalize Apatow and elevate Schumer’s star even further. Now, the very next morning, feeling slightly hungover with hair disheveled, I feel saddened and regretful to tell you that Trainwreck isn’t that movie.

The film opens with a flashback presented in a gritty film aesthetic. Discussing his impending divorce with his children, Gordon (Collin Quinn) explains to his children that “monogamy isn’t realistic,” making the young girls repeat the mantra. Flash forward to the present, Amy (Schumer) lives in New York, where she finds her evenings occupied by excessive amounts and alcohol and random one-night stands. She works at a hip, snarky magazine, S’Nuff, and has a muscle-bound, moronic boyfriend played by wrestler John Cena. Her editor, a nearly unrecognizable Tilda Swinton, assigns her a story to do a profile piece on a prominent sports doctor, Aaron (Bill Hader). Meanwhile, Amy also has to deal with moving her father, stricken with multiple sclerosis, into an assisted living facility while arguing with her young sister Kim (Brie Larson), who is fully suburban and wants to move her father into a cheaper facility. Eventually, Amy and Aaron hit it off until Amy’s habits become a problem – then they don’t.

There are a number of genuinely funny moments in Trainwreck, but the dispersal of effective humor is so scattershot throughout the comedy that runs slightly over two hours. I’d be more critical of Schumer’s script if the film’s problems weren’t so distinct to Apatow’s recent output. Like his last couple films, Trainwreck is overstuffed and overlong, incapable of weaving together raunchy humor and sentimentality effectively over its lengthy running time. There are so many characters and subplots that pile up before getting a hurried conclusion, if they’re concluded at all. Towards the end, Trainwreck just mimics plot points from Apatow’s The 40-Year-Old Virgin right down to a song and dance conclusion.

In the same way the film is overflowing with subplots, it’s also overflowing with characters and cameos. This leads to some of the more interesting characters – mainly Amy’s co-workers at S’Nuff played by Vanessa Bayer, Jon Glaser, Randall Park, and the great Tilda Swinton – being underserved in the chaotic nature of the film’s many subplots. Of all the cameos, LeBron James does avail himself well in moments, but Apatow allows all of these scenes to run too long, diminishing their comedic punch. Trainwreck rivals Entourage with its sheer number of superfluous cameos, including Tony Romo, Amar’e Stoudemire, Marv Albert, Chris Evert, and Matthew Broderick – all of which could be excised from the film without affecting a thing other than improve the film’s pacing.

Trainwreck is a crushing disappointment because Amy Schumer is such a comedic talent. Within the film she displays wonderful comedic timing, knowing when best to be outrageous or subtle. She also displays an ability to get laughs without lines with expressive facial expressions and a form of physical humor. Sadly, at least as Trainwreck is concerned, Schumer’s writing isn’t up to snuff. While I understand that the subplot of a father dealing with multiple sclerosis is a form of personal catharsis for Schumer (she’s been open about her father’s struggle with MS), it doesn’t really work within the confines of the story being presented.

Trainwreck is a staggering drunk of a movie. At first, it’s endearing with some genuinely funny moments before the alcohol takes hold and the brain is incapable of finishing any thoughts – “Let me tell you about my sister, which brings me to Tony Romo!” I want more featuring Amy Schumer, but I also want more from Amy Schumer. Trainwreck seems to contain much more of Apatow’s voice than Schumer’s because it falls into the same traps that Apatow has been falling for the past couple of years. It saddens me to say that Trainwreck is one of the most disappointing movies of the year. Now I need a drink.

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