Review by David Baldwin for Mr. Will Wong
In 2005, Judd Apatow unspooled The 40-Year-Old Virgin and instantly became the go-to Comedy Mastermind. And while his Cast has had unparalleled success since, Apatow’s features as a Writer/Director have not. So for his fifth Feature, he decided to stay behind the camera and let someone else write the Story. And when that someone happens to be Comedic Goddess Amy Schumer, all bets are off.
Amy (Schumer) is a writer for a low-brow men’s magazine, and is all but totally against the idea of monogamy. She is content to drink, smoke and move from guy to guy with no commitments. But that changes when she is assigned to write an article on sport doctor/surgeon Aaron (Bill Hader). After hooking-up, Amy and Aaron begin a relationship. And like all Meet-Cutes, it only gets complicated from there.
Trainwreck is easily the funniest Film of the summer, and one of the funniest in recent memory. It is a Romantic Comedy, but does not play by any of the conventional rules. It feels genuine and fun, giving an unglamourous look at something that Film has romanticized for far too long.
Schumer is terrific in her first leading role. She commands the screen from the moment she shows up, and makes her Character feel authentic and real. She is not some girl pining for Prince Charming to take her away to his castle – this is a confident Character, with real problems, feelings and emotions. Her Comedy is not for everyone (and some may find her Character’s behaviour to be abhorrent), but I nearly fell out of my seat from laughing so hard at some of her quips and actions. Schumer has an infectious energy that drives Trainwreck, giving it a pulse even at its lowest moments. She is very much the post-modern feminist, and Apatow wisely never tries to reel her in.
Hader plays against-type as Amy’s love interest Aaron. He plays the entire Film straight-laced and succeeds spectacularly. I remain shocked that his Character remains so normal and neutral, never creeping into his usual zany SNL-style schtick. Another surprise is LeBron James, who seems to have been given the gift of deadpan humour. His scenes are some of the best in the Film, and kudos to him for staying so stone-faced even with the most outrageous portions of dialogue. Supporting turns from Colin Quinn, Brie Larson, Tilda Swinton and the WWE’s John Cena are all excellent and downright hysterical.
But for how wildly-enjoyable the Film is, it fumbles in the Third Act where it gets progressively sillier and stranger. What starts off as a very modern look at relationships quickly devolves into something that lacks the cohesion and even the intelligence that came before it. By the time the ending comes, it just feels a bit baffling (and not in the preposterous The 40-Year-Old Virgin kind of way). I am not sure if this is because of Schumer’s Script or Apatow’s direction – but it is not helped by the Film running 20 minutes longer than it should. Apatow long has been criticized for his Films’ lack of brevity, and while Trainwreck runs out of steam a bit later you might imagine, it still feels too long.
Despite a weak Third Act, Trainwreck is hysterical the whole way through. Schumer has written a modern take on relationships that very rarely feels forced, and manages to often feel just as genuine as it does poignant. Her chemistry with Hader is awesome, and the Supporting Cast is ridiculously-funny. Apatow still has some growing to do as a Director, but Schumer is a Star.
Universal Pictures Canada release TRAINWRECK on Friday, July 17, 2015.