A Star Is Born: A Review of ‘Trainwreck’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - July 16, 2015
A Star Is Born: A Review of ‘Trainwreck’

Existing in cyber space as we do, hyperbole is part of the game and par for the course, it is the internet after all.  As comedienne Amy Schumer makes her feature debut in Trainwreck no one would question you if you thought the hyperbole meter was turned up way too high as we get comedy’s new “It” girl.  There is just one problem, the hyperbole is completely deserved and with Amy Schumer we get what is easily the funniest thing that Judd Apatow has given us in years.

Three words have been drilled into young Amy’s (Amy Schumer) ever since she was a little girl; monogamy isn’t realistic, plain and simple.  Now a magazine writer in New York, it is a credo that she lives by, enjoying an unencumbered hedonistic existence free of romantic entanglements, so why has she hit this rut?  While on assignment to write an article about him, she meets Dr Aaron Connors (Bill Hader) and finds herself breaking from her usual ways and actually falling in love with him.  But that can’t be?  She’s resisted this all her life, but ultimately can’t shake these feelings that she has.  Could it be that everything she has rallied against, including her friends and family settling down might be the right way to go to find happiness after all.  Against her better judgement, she dives in head first to find out if all of these other grown-ups who insist that they are happy in monogamous relationships, might actually be on to something.

While director Judd Apatow has a tendency to go a little over long at times and while some of his more maudlin and grown-up influences are on this script, Trainwreck actually works its magic when it is being rough around the edges and more than a little foul as our heroine marks her pop culture status as a genuine star and proves that women can sell some raunchy comedy just as well, if not better then the men do.

Apatow is a solid director in his own right and can certainly get a narrative going at a decent pace, he did what he has never done before on a feature effort.  Despite some obvious influences in the third act, he doesn’t have a writing credit.  This is Schumer’s story from beginning to end, and for the most part it actually works.  Parts of the third act do end up feeling a little bit forced as the narrative tries to create a conflict, but we either never believe it or end up laughing in a moment that was supposed to at least feel like it had a little more weight.  It’s a minor nitpick to be fair as she does keep the comedy going at fast but acceptable and develops a wide array of characters that we can actually get behind.

tilda-swintonWriting for herself obviously served her as she is never afraid to put herself and her character in circumstances that could be awkward for someone not in control of her own destiny and her own sexuality.  It’s cringe worthy at times, but it is always funny and it is always true as she owns her own body in this performance.  She’s bouncing from sexy, to rolling on the floor hilarious, to genuinely emotional and back to sexy inside the same scene.  It is where the root of her comedy comes from, she can have a naked 250 pound man on top of her, or can be flailing around a room doing some great physical comedy.  Both situations are funny, because she makes them that way.  Even if she isn’t in the scene it is never not Amy’s world.  Bill Hader is great opposite her as the charming every man who is and isn’t her type at the exact time while this movie has some comedic performances that practically steal the show.  The great Tilda Swinton is damn near unrecognizable here as her bitchy yet glamorous boss, Brie Larson is a great counter point to Amy as her grounded married sister and someone needs to give her a high profile movie to carry and now, Colin Quinn is his usual acerbic self and pro wrestler/actor John Cena just might have a legitimate career beyond B-Grade action movies after his in ring career is over as his comedic timing is damn good and I can’t wait to see him in Sisters towards the end of the year.  However here is the kicker, LeBron James is good at everything and is legitimately funny in this movie…seriously.  Granted he is playing an amped up version of himself but he earns every laugh that he gets and has to be a serious contender to get the lead in the rumored Space Jam 2.

This is either the culmination of great direction, great writing or even great casting because even when Trainwreck tries to manufacture some drama and flails around just a little in order to get us to get us to the happy ending, it still works.  On the natural charisma of Amy Schumer and the talented people that she was ultimately surrounded by who always kept us guessing where they would go and where the laughs would come from.

This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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