July 22, 2015

Movie Review: Trainwreck (2015)

I like Judd Apatow. There is something about the films he directs, writes, and/or produces that find a way to hit home. He has a knack for combining the believable with the absurd, the vulgar with the sublime. He crafts relationships (or helps guide their creation) that feel genuine and are entertaining. With his latest directorial effort, he teams with Amy Schumer, the rising star of comedy, whom I know next to nothing about. She wrote the script, he directed the film, and Trainwreck was the result. Frankly, I had no idea what to expect, basically I was just hoping it wouldn't live up to its title.

The trailers prove to be awfully misleading. The trailer paints a picture of a young woman who sleeps with a lot of guys, one night stands. She was taught not to believe in monogamy at a young age and took it to heart. She finds herself in trouble when she stays over with an interview subject for her magazine job. Seems like the usual set up for a romantic comedy, and at its heart, that is what this is. But when you watch the movie, you will see there is more to it, more actual heart and depth. This is not to say you will like it, or even that the movie is good, just there is more to it than the trailer would have you believe.

The movie is a bit of a trainwreck as it comes across with a slight case of bipolar disorder. It has its more dramatic moments of real character connection and emotional revelation, and then it has its moments of jokes and vulgarity. They both have their moments and taken separately are quite good. The problem is that they feel like they are at odds together. Perhaps like two different scripts got shuffled together and forced to play nice with each other. The whole is a bit less than the sum of its parts.

Trainwreck is an interesting film, it sort of takes a look at arrested development comedies and mixes in a coming of age drama. The main character is living her life by her own rules, making it up as she goes along. Problems arise when she reaches a crossroads where the responsible adult side of her comes into conflict with the carefree life she has been leading. Be it from meeting a guy that she finds she actually cares about more than her one night stands, or having to confront the reality of her aging father and distant sister.

Amy (Schumer) is a living trainwreck. Her life is changing at a very rapid pace and she has decisions to make that will affect the rest of her life. Sure, it is funny to watch her be pretty mean to almost all of the people around her, but it is something else to see the realization of the world dawning on her. It is a pretty fascinating thing. No, the movie is not great, but it has the DNA of Apatow's better work and that is sometimes all that you need.

The vulgar comedy is at times really dang funny, but it is in the real moments where it shines. It is in these moments that I found something to latch on to. It is in the mash of the vulgar and the heartfelt that the excellence shines. No, I still do not love it or think it is great, but it does transcend the typical comedy and offers a mirror held up to the real world, like a funhouse mirror that distorts everything by exaggerating the reality.

I am not sure what else to say. The movie is a bit of a trainwreck, but it is also about a trainwreck. I liked it and I didn't like it. Is that the point? I don't know. What I do know is that I laughed at times, I was touched at times, and I felt it ran a bit long. It is certainly worth checking out, just do not expect a comedy classic.


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Thomas Watson said...

This film was very hit and miss for me. Amy's dramatic work in the film is great and many of her jokes are funny, but it took a long time for her character to become engaging or the dreaded L word ("Likeable").

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