I really wanted to like “Trainwreck.”
It’s directed by one of my favourite filmmakers (Judd Apatow), it stars one of the best up-and-coming comedians right now (Amy Schumer), and it features an incredible cast of comedians like Bill Hader and Colin Quinn, actors like Tilda Swinton and Brie Larson, and even sports stars like Lebron James and John Cena.
And yet, “Trainwreck” was a major disappointment. If you’re looking for some great jokes, you could honestly save yourself from buying a $US15 movie ticket just by watching the film’s red-band trailer, which was released back in February. It’s embedded below here.
The moments from the above trailer were easily the funniest scenes in the entire movie:
- Amy and her sister, as little girls, reciting back to their father, “Monogamy isn’t realistic.”
- Comedian Dave Attell as the homeless guy who hangs outside Amy’s place, remarking on Amy’s scandalous attire: “What’s the matter, did church let out early?”
- Amy to her sister Kim (played by Brie Larson), criticising how she dresses her husband: “You dress him like that so no one wants to have sex with him?”
- Amy’s date Steven (played by John Cena), getting angry at a guy who calls him “Mark Wahlberg” in a movie theatre: “Mark Wahlberg? Mark Wahlberg’s like 150 pounds. I look like Mark Wahlberg ate Mark Wahlberg!”
- NBA superstar Lebron James interrupting Amy’s first meeting with Aaron (played by Bill Hader): “We watching ‘Downton Abbey later? Listen I’m watching it tonight because I’m not going to go to practice and all the guys are talking about it and I’m left out.”
- Aaron asks Amy, who hates sports, what her favourite sports team is: “The Orlando… Blooms?”
- Aaron tells Lebron at brunch that he slept with Amy. Lebron’s response: “My boy got intimate! Sexual intercourse! Ohhhhh!”
Between these lines from a trailer, and a few memorable others — Kim’s husband Tom (played by Mike Birbiglia) talking about having a baby soon, “Not all sex ends with a flush and a cry!” — that’s the extent of the comedy in “Trainwreck.”
Unfortunately for Apatow, Schumer and co., the real trainwreck here is the script. It is literally all over the place. This movie hopes to be something for everyone: a romantic comedy for couples, a movie for single women, a non-stop cameo-a-thon for sports lovers, and finally, a touching drama about families, sisterhood, and taking control of one’s life. But in trying to be something for everyone, it ends up falling short in every single category.
Some of my own problems with the movie (minor spoilers ahead):
- Lebron James feels underutilized, and could have owned more screen time, particularly towards the end. He has some of the funniest lines in the movie, and he steals every scene. It’s not often you get the world’s best basketball player to take a lead role in your movie. I wanted to see more scenes with he and Amy, as they played off each other extremely well. (There’s a memorable stare-down between the two.)
- The romance between Amy and Aaron is predictable, even when it temporarily breaks apart. Even their separation feels forced by the script, and Amy barely returns to her “trainwreck” behaviour even after it happens.
- By the way, Amy is not much of a “trainwreck” in this movie, quite honestly. She’s at her best early on in the movie where her debauchery leads to some funny lines, but later in the movie, she feels complacent in her relationship, which was frankly boring.
- Lebron James stages an intervention for Aaron, a scene that feels completely out of place and made worse by terribly unfunny dialogue. This is Apatow and Schumer trying to return to the moment in “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” where the three main friends of the protagonist, played by Steve Carell, come to his aid and encourage him to go get his girlfriend back. In “Trainwreck,” it doesn’t work.
- The cameo by NBA announcer Marv Albert felt totally out of place: We don’t meet him until the intervention scene, which he narrates as an announcer, and later says, “Marv Albert is sorry.” Why does he suddenly talk in the third-person? Who is this person in the first place (assuming you don’t watch televised NBA games)? The movie doesn’t help you answer these questions. After this scene, however, Marv Albert introduces an NBA game on TV. These scenes could have been switched so we meet Marv before (what would have been) his funny lines.
- The movie is excessively long at 2+ hours. Apatow could have trimmed off 30 minutes and it would have been a better film. There were too many scenes with bad dialogue, or a moment meant to be “touching,” which could have been removed altogether to help the film be more succinct and punchier.
- The end of the movie felt very “Hollywood” — everyone has a happy ending, yay! — but it also felt untrue to the rest of the script and very cliché.
“Trainwreck” was billed as being Amy Schumer’s coming out party: As this film is meant to mirror very closely to her own life, I’d hoped she and Apatow put together a killer script that would finally match “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” which is still Apatow’s best work, in my opinion. Unfortunately the movie came up short across the board. It’s over-long, not very funny, and not very good at being romantic or emotionally gripping, either. It’s extremely difficult to care about any of these characters, despite how much I love the actors who play them.
Judd Apatow and Amy Schumer are two of the best minds in comedy today. So it’s a shame that they couldn’t produce a film that was funnier than its two-minute trailer.
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