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New Release Review - TRAINWRECK

An independent, fun-loving journalist falls for a square doctor while writing an article.


Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Judd Apatow

Starring: Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, Brie Larson, John Cena, Tilda Swinton, Ezra Miller, LeBron James, Daniel Radcliffe, Marisa Tomei



"Whatever intentions Schumer and Apatow had for Trainwreck, they've delivered a numbingly mainstream comedy. The woman may be on top, but the position hasn't changed."



If male-oriented comedy is at an all time low, thanks in no small part to Judd Apatow and his posse, the same can't be said of its female equivalent. We're living in something of a golden age of female-driven American comedy, with practically all the best comedic movies of the decade featuring funny women on both sides of the camera. While fanboys may have erupted in fury, it makes perfect sense to recast a female Ghostbusters, simply because there are no funny men who could now fit those parts. And despite what some may think, sexy and funny aren't mutually exclusive, with hotties like Tina Fey and Lake Bell creasing us over in laughter.
Trust Judd Apatow to come along and derail this trend with Trainwreck (has there ever been a better case of movie title as critique?), penned by and starring stand-up comic Amy Schumer in her first lead role. She plays New Yorker Amy Townsend, who in between writing articles for lads mag S'nuff, likes to enjoy her life, eating bad food, drinking too much and sleeping around; basically all the things a girl in her late twenties should be doing. This being a mainstream American comedy of course means that Amy must be slut-shamed, and so the script has her fall for square as they come sports physio Aaron Connors, played by Bill Hader in a role that demands nothing of his comic talents. It's a Jewish mother's fantasy writ large.
Amy and Aaron are the most ill-suited couple since Jekyll and Hyde. The only trait they share is a degree of narcissism, and chemistry is entirely absent. Aaron is as boring a character as you could imagine, with a Victorian attitude towards relationships, expecting Amy to put her career on hold so he can focus on his own. Amy rightly stands up for herself initially, only to give in, resulting in an overblown twist on the old airport dash. It's baffling as to what she sees in the guy. It doesn't seem to be his money, as the movie never portrays Amy as anything even close to a gold-digger; she's far too independent for that. Ditto Aaron's attraction to Amy. He seems to fall for her simply after a single night of platonic pounding. Yet Schumer and Apatow seem convinced we'll all get behind this couple. Far more interesting are the supporting characters played by an unrecognisable Tilda Swinton as Amy's tough as nails British boss and basketball star LeBron James as himself, a genuine comic revelation who saves quite a few scenes.
The word 'cut' doesn't seem to be in Apatow's vocabulary, with his recent movies consistently failing to come in under the two hour mark. Scenes ramble on and on to the point at which any impact a joke might have initially had is completely smothered. Actors and guesting celebrities are given far too much improvisatory rope, and end up hanging both themselves and the pace of the scene. The film has the gall to mock what Schumer and Apatow would consider generic rom-coms, with a film within the film (The Dogwalker) starring Daniel Radcliffe and Marisa Tomei, a gag that's about as fresh as the avacodo stuck to the back of my fridge. Amy's sexual encounters follow the tired template of '70s sex comedies, with all her lovers displaying some manner of irritating quirk, from a 16-year-old intern wishing to be dominated (Ezra Miller), to a secretly gay bodybuilder (wrestler John Cena, confusingly not playing himself, unlike the other athletes in the cast).
Whatever intentions Schumer and Apatow had for Trainwreck, they've delivered a numbingly mainstream comedy. The woman may be on top, but the position hasn't changed.



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