Starring: Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, Brie Larson
Ever since being convinced as a young girl by her father that monogamy isn’t realistic, journalist Amy (Schumer) has led a life of heavy drinking and promiscuity. After being dumped by her hunky boyfriend Steven (John Cena) when he discovers her infidelity, Amy finds herself in a rut. When Amy has to write a story on successful sports doctor Aaron Connors (Hader), the two of them have an instant attraction despite them being very different, leading to a woman that has a seeming phobia of commitment to question if it is now time to change her ways.
So I welcome back with absolutely no feeling of warmth whatsoever to the director’s chair Judd Apatow; a man who as both director and producer has shown no interest in demonstrating any kind of self-discipline or storytelling craft, and while his films continue to make money he will never even bother trying to do so. I am not saying I hate all of Judd Apatow’s films, some are very funny, but all credit for this should go to the actors and not him as his films have the most wafer thin narrative holding together a series of hit and miss sketches for over two hours, and then end with a some lazily thrown in schmaltz that feels painfully contrived and forced.
Well, after his last directorial effort which he also wrote; the abysmal self-indulgence project that was This Is 40, I am pleased to say that the man who takes the concept of ‘character driven narrative’ way too far has basically let everyone get on with it. So we do of course get the usual Apatow trademarks: ill-disciplined editing and a series of hit and miss improvised sketches that are left to ware gags very thin being held together by hardly any narrative, which itself then contains predictable and forced sentimentality to hold everything together at the end.
However, despite many problems (length being the major one), Trainwreck still has enough charm and just about enough sketches that hit to be an enjoyable one-off watch. No credit whatsoever for this should go to Apatow, but all to its star and writer Amy Schumer. In isolation her character is not particularly likeable, cheating on her other half with different men on a weekly basis, every other word she utters is an inappropriate use of the word “like” and her occupation is one of the most generic a protagonist of this genre of film can have. However Schumer’s infectious screen charisma and charm is what essentially saves her character and indeed the film. She is obviously a very talented comedic actress and hopefully will work with some genuinely good comedy directors in the future to really utilise her talent.
The supporting cast too provide some great laughs; Bill Hader is of course always funny and his character is not only the perfect antidote to Schumer’s, but the two of them do share obvious chemistry which they would have developed from the many years that they have worked together. John Cena has only a few scenes at the beginning of the film, but is hilarious and an almost unrecognisable Tilda Swinton is completely over the top, but hysterical as Amy’s permanently angry boss.
Schumer is credited as the sole ‘writer’ of this film, but this being a Judd Apatow film the actual script was probably a few sentences and a vast majority (if not all) of the dialogue is just improvised. This may work if the presentation of the film is a little more disciplined, but at a running time of 125 minutes, Trainwreck does indeed feel like an overlong and often laborious journey. There are so many scenes which could have been edited down or removed completely, and this gives the film a bagginess that often undoes the enjoyment factor of the moments that are genuinely funny. However, the slightly higher number of hits than misses and the great performances, especially the infectious and likeable Schumer, do just about salvage Trainwreck from going completely off the rails, but only just.
Despite having the usual ill-disciplined editing and over long running time undoing a lot of the good work from some very funny moments and some great performances, Trainwreck is a just about enjoyable enough watch.