**1/2 (out of 5)
July 17, 2015
Amy Schumer as AMY
Bill Hader as DR. AARON CONNERS
John Cena as STEVEN
Tilda Swinton as DIANNA
Brie Larson as KIM
Colin Quinn as GORDON
LeBron James as LEBRON JAMES
Directed by: Judd Apatow
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
There’s a certain degree of respect I can give “Trainwreck,” mainly for the brazen comedy and meteoric rise to fame that comes with its star, Amy Schumer. I’ve not watched her stand-up or her popular sketch show on Comedy Central, but I certainly give the lady credit for becoming the new It Girl in comedy.
(For the record, I don’t necessarily think it’s all that groundbreaking or daring for a women to do raunchy comedy, so she doesn’t win any extra points from me on that front. It’s not that I’m bothered by raunchy female comedy; rather I don’t see it as terribly unique. After all, ladies have been telling dirty jokes on the stage for decades, going back to Joan Rivers in the 1960s up to Sarah Silverman today in pretty much any comedy club of her choice.)
I find “Trainwreck” a bit curious because while Schumer is plastered all over the marketing, there’s some background noise of Judd Apatow as director. While I’ve enjoyed some of Apatow’s films (namely “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and “Knocked Up”), his appeal has worn off quite a bit over the years. But hey, at least he doesn’t cram his shrill, annoying wife and his kids into this movie.
While “Trainwreck” has Apatow’s fingerprints all over it, the piece is really Schumer’s movie. She wrote the script, and she plays the lead character. Her raw comedy delivery about sex in the modern world is recognizable to her fans, and she definitely commands the screen when she’s on it.
In the film, Schumer plays an exaggerated version of her stage persona. Even though she’s in her mid-30s, she hasn’t grown up at all, leading her to drink until she’s black-out drunk throughout the week and hooking up with random guys but refusing the spend the night because she’s terrified of commitment. After being assigned to interview a sports medicine doctor (Bill Hader), she hops into bed with him and finds herself falling in love. His more down-to-earth approach to life conflicts with her promiscuous party lifestyle, causing her to reevaluate where she’s going.
Ultimately, there’s very little in “Trainwreck” that is original or different when you take into account the fact that the story simply swaps gender roles of a traditional male-centric raunchy comedy. Schumer plays the Owen Wilson (or Vince Vaughn or Seth Rogen) character… only drunker and more promiscuous. Hader plays the black love interest with very little depth (which is sad because Hader’s comic genius is squandered throughout the entire film). Even their best friends (featuring LeBron James in a surprisingly funny supporting role) are the polar opposite of their gender stereotypes.
Yeah, this plays for humor well, more so with the male figures acting more demure and concerned about feelings and emotions. James actually has a great screen presence and can be quite funny in the film (aside from delivering a tired “Downton Abbey” joke that went out of style two years ago).
Unfortunately, “Trainwreck” is saddled with all the problems that Judd Apatow movies have, including a bloated running time, unlikable characters and his egomaniacal desire to prove that he knows famous people with a never-ending series of pointless cameos (only in this film, he brags about his sports friends… and Matthew Broderick for some nonsensical reason).
But the biggest problem I had is that I didn’t like most of the characters. They’re horrible people: acerbic, mean-spirited, self-destructive and vindictive. Sure, their actions are funny in small doses, but I couldn’t stand to have dinner with any of these people, let alone spend two hours in a movie theater with them.
The film takes too long to show any sort of change in Schumer’s character, and her problems are so overwhelming that it’s hard to believe anything can be set straight without years of therapy, AA meetings and at least a couple shots of penicillin.
I can’t say that I didn’t laugh a few times during “Trainwreck,” but I also can’t say that I liked anyone in the film either.