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Thread: TRAINWRECK (Judd Apatow 2015)

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    Jul 2002
    SF Bay Area

    TRAINWRECK (Judd Apatow 2015)

    Judd Apatow: Trainwreck (2015)


    Potty-mouthed girl sees the light, finds romance

    It's surprising if this title has not yet been used for a new comedy, since lately Hollywood so much likes funny female characters expert at dominating every scene but otherwise a total mess. Such was the case with Kirsten Wiig in Bridesmaids. And this is a continuum: Judd Apatow is billed in ads for Trainwreck as the man who brought us Bridesmaids, even though that one was technically directed by Paul Feig. Apatow's handiwork has been so strongly felt in Hollywood comedy over the past fifteen years, since his quiet but classic start with "Freaks and Geeks," he is the recognized master now. Trainwreck is his first overt directorial step into female-dominated comedy, his purview mostly having been bromance, forty-year-old virgins, or geeky Jewish boys who hilariously win luscious babes.

    Apatow has strong help in Trainwreck from the Comedy Central star Amy Schumer, who both wrote (her screenwriting debut) and stars as the scene-dominating mess, Amy, a woman with a humiliating job on S'Nuff, an outrageous sex satire magazine. Some proposed articles are "Ugliest Celebrity Kids Under Six" and "You're Not Gay, She's Boring." Amy drinks too much and smokes too much dope, talks mean to and about her normal, married sister, Kim (a very appealing Brie Larson), and, having been coached from childhood by her now aging father (Colin Quinn) to despise monogamy, uses men for one-nighters in which they're kicked out after performing cunnilingus. All that comes hot and fast in the early minutes, establishing Amy's and the movie's potty-mouthed cred and making room for the innovation (Bridesmaids didn't have one) -- inclusion of a thoroughly nice and highly accomplished male character who falls for Amy, a famous sports doctor named Aaron Conners played by Bill Hader. Amy can't believe this romance -- which makes room for the complication and the turnaround, where she overcomes her self-hatred and finds romance with Aaron. The nasty-talking girl comedy turns into a full-fledged rom-com.

    This girl comedy may work best for the girls; I found myself laughing most at the occasional guy moments, particularly those involving LeBron James (playing himself). (There's a funny scene where LeBron talks about Cleveland.) Aaron's job is occasion for bringing in several famous athletes and some fun quick moments of showoff basketball. There's arguably too much of Judd Apatow's fun showing off of celebs or stars in small roles, including Daniel Radcliffe in a little black and white movie as a New York dog walker; Manhattan itself plays no small role, with a little none-too-flattering cameo assigned to Staten Island.

    The best novelty castings (there are two) are a hilarious and unrecognizable Tilda Swinton as Amy's bronzed, brassy British editor, and Ezra Miller as a sixteen-year-old magazine intern with kinky ideas about sex. The guy Amy's dating before meeting Aaron, Steven, also has some weird ideas about sex talk. Steven is played by John Cena, a muscle-sculpted specimen who's actually a pro wrestling star. Where do they find these people, and where does Amy Schumer get her ideas for sex humor? She has a mind that's both more strange and more conventional than at first appears.

    This Is 40 introduced an Apatow with a new interest in grownup married life, and Trainwreck focuses on Amy's need to assume a responsible role in society. So in time she apologizes for mocking her sister's family life. She has already shown concern for her aging father, though she has some trouble grieving appropriately when he passes away. Kim's little boy gets a couple of interesting speeches, which perform no comedic function and simply reflect a willingness to take children seriously.

    There is no Melissa McCarthy here. Melissa has become a Spy movie action hero (a fabulous follow-up, and much more, for her with Paul Feig). Amy takes on the potty-mouthed female part -- only she's a potty-mouthed female who sees the light and becomes just a girl in love with a guy. As that guy, Aaron, the chief orthopedist for the Mets and award-winning contributor to Doctors Without Borders, Bill Hader is smooth and charming. He has nearly leading man looks and comedy chops. After a while, though, his character, who is straight (unfunny) but without realistic drama depth, becomes boring and repetitious. But it's hard to see how the transition from salty girl comedy to celebrity-ornamented rom-com would be possible without him. Basically this movie works. It doesn't have as good set pieces as Bridesmaids or the classic Apatow-sponsored brom-coms or Spy, but it flows well. It would work even better with thirty minutes cut from its two-hours-plus by removing a stuff that's neither funny nor essential.

    Trainwreck, 125 mins., debuted at SXSW March 2015, with US theatrical release from 17 July, wolrldwide releases rolling out through November. UK, 28 August 2015.

    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 07-18-2015 at 09:30 AM.


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