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Saturday, July 18, 2015

Trainwreck 2015 * * 1/2 Stars

TrainwreckDirector: Judd Apatow
Year: 2015
Rated R
Rating: * * 1/2 Stars
Cast: Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, Brie Larson

OK. So I've made some observations about 2015's Trainwreck (my latest review). Note to the movie itself: Bravo on the most dead-on walk of shame sequence to ever grace the silver screen. Note to LeBron James and John Cena: You guys are the top tier in your sport (NBA basketball and WWE wrestling respectively) but your acting still needs a little work. John, I'm not sure if it's the dialogue you've been saddled with or your improvised line delivery, but you come off as unfunny while everything you say seems relatively cogent. Note to Amar'e Stoudemire: You aren't really an actor either but your cameo in "Wreck" (with hardly any lines) outshines James and Cena profusely. I'm not saying you're Lawrence Olivier but keep up the good work. Note to the New York Knicks organization: Just because you are talked up in this flick doesn't mean we as an audience, don't know that your team is still kind of in the crapper. Finally, note to director Judd Apatow: We know you like the concept of raunchiness (you speak of it in interviews) but you need to hire a screenwriter who doesn't let said raunchy scenes get out of control while dragging on too long. People don't interact with a vulgar nature in every adult situation (especially during funerals, baby showers, and professional business meetings) and believable sex scenes don't involve one party being fully clothed. Now granted, Trainwreck is your latest release, it's gonna make a lot of money (I could tell from an opening day screening), and I give you credit for turning virtual unknowns into leading men and woman (Steve Carell, Seth Rogen, and currently, Amy Schumer). For me though, this is a mixed bag. And I shed a tear knowing that it could have been so much better.

Now as a vehicle, Trainwreck involves a thirty-year old woman who sleeps around until finally finding the man of her dreams. In the cannon of Apatow's filmography, it's a step below 2007's Knocked Up and 2012's This Is 40 (both of these films were funnier, seemed like they had more of a script, and didn't strain for comic transgression). "Wreck" is more on par with The 40-Year-Old Virgin, an exercise that doesn't equal a movie so much as a series of drawn-out, earthy scenes. Yeah its story is more coherent but it's improv to the max and overlong (an Apatow affidavit). As for the courtship between its characters being Schumer's Amy and Bill Hader's Aaron Conners (a big time sports doctor and said dream guy), well it's simply not believable. These people are polar opposites and there's no evidence to say that they could ever function as a couple (despite giving them a two hour running time to prove it). (Spoiler Alert) oh and did I mention the ending? Well it's faintly predictable (you just knew these crazy kids would end up together). To my dismay though, I was surprised by how unique it was (just think cheerleaders dancing at Madison Square Garden). All of this in the end, doesn't negate Apatow from being Apatow. He would rather have his cast members talking like perverted sheep than showing some unadulterated emotion. He likes everything ostentatious but I wish he would just grow up.

In conclusion, I was surprised by how deep Trainwreck tried to project itself (don't let the trailer fool you). This is not necessarily a comedy (especially towards the second and third act). It deals with depression, death in the family, drug use, and of course, promiscuity (which actually just occurs in the first half-hour or so). For what it's worth, Amy Schumer is the best thing going for it. Her character is real, multilayered, and has issues. Her performance here deserves a better movie, one with an actual script and not ad libs. As an actress, she's likable, strangely attractive, and backed up with some good supporting work (Brie Larson as Amy's sister, acts with her eyes, and as usual, is solid). However, this numbing movie is indeed, a "trainwreck". Apatow like in Knocked Up (remember the scene a la a baby coming out of the womb), wants to gross you out with close-ups of someone getting stitches and a flask knee getting operating on graphically (to the Billy Joel jam, "Uptown Girl"). He's the frat boy version of John Waters, a real jester.

Of note: Trainwreck didn't pulverize me with its negligible, comedic vibe but I chuckled threefold. You have Amy Schumer's narration which is unconventional in a sense yet totally humorous. There's also a cameo-laden sequence involving Matthew Broderick, Chris Evert, and Marv Albert. It had to do with some sort of intervention (Evert says the word c**kblocker, I'm not kidding). Finally, look for a scene where Aims walks on a treadmill and has her body type plastered via a large computer screen. It's crazy sexy cool and sort of reinvents the whole "Hitler" strut (I felt squeamish but still laughed nervously).

Written by Jesse Burleson

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