Alex Reviews Trainwreck - Judd Apatow's Funniest Movie (But Also His Most Disjointed)

Amy Schumer proves herself, despite her director's failings.

Rating: ˜…˜…˜… Judd Apatow may be the king of modern American comedy, dominating the R-rated box office with a slew of Frat Pack-staring films with a deft balance of cringe, gross-out and bromantic humour, but I've always found the movies he actually directed (as opposed to simply producing) a bit lacking. Oh, The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up are fine - if decidedly mid-range - comedies, but Funny People was nothing more than a sappy melodrama and This Is 40 is far too self-involved. The running trait is less humorous times at the cinema than punishing runtimes and misjudged attempts to make a straight drama, making me somewhat apprehensive about his next film. Maybe it's not just me, because Trainwreck, his latest, arrives with a Shyamalan-esque lacking of directorial promotion - the key selling points are Amy Schumer (who we all now must pretend is a modern great because she was in a show that never made it to mainstream UK TV) and Apatow's producing role on Bridesmaids. There's something particularly ironic about this give that this is actually his funniest film, although I would say its successes come less from its director than its writer/star.
Schumer dominates the entire film with a bluntly comic script injected with a post-modern feminist slant that never throws in vomit (or worse) to try and queasily get you laughing; Paul Feig's work is going to look archaic after this. Performance-wise it's as you'd expect from her - that she wrote everything with herself in mind explains why she's so at home in the character - but that's what this story of a thirty-something who's unwillingly spiralling out of control really needs The cast she's surrounded with is equally great. Bill Hader is instantly likeable as Aaron, the sport injury surgeon Amy falls for after writing a Cosmo-style expose on, and Tilda Swinton is unrecognisable as her randomised editor, although the biggest surprise is Brie Larson, who finally gets something outside of an all but silent bit-part to show she can act. For film fans in particular there's a lot to enjoy, with plentiful pop culture references that feel a lot more justified than in Ted 2; my favourites are the most blatant spoiling of Keyser Söze's reveal ever, lovingly contextualised by it ruining a character's enjoyment as well, and fake movie The Dogwalker (starring Daniel Radcliffe and Marisa Tomei) which serves as a sly jab at Sundance wannabes and their brief popularity bubble. They're really fun moments and, had everything else operated on a similar level, could have made this the comedy of the summer.
Sadly, when you get to the direction - looking at the film as a film rather than just a run of gags - Trainwreck crashes, falling prey to the issues that have ran through Apatow's filmography. Scenes run on well after the joke's been made, sub-plots disappear for thirty minutes at a time and the whole thing is much too long; he is on a par with Peter Jackson as the director most in need of a good editor who can rein in his mishmash of ideas. And, like Jackson with the friendly-cum-epic Hobbit, Apatow is reaching a bit too far once again. The emotional stakes here are much better set up than the forced-drama of Funny People, but they still ultimately feel undercooked and a bit desperate. If he really wants to make a regular drama film, then he should just bite the bullet and do that, leaving comedy for his producing side. At the moment, he just can't get the two to work together into anything meaningful. Schumer, on the other hand, I really like. Deprecating to herself but not her gender, she strikes the unfussed balance in female comedy that everyone pretends Melissa McCarthy does. I look forward to her next film. Although ideally one with a more exciting director. Seen Trainwreck? What did you think?
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Film Editor (2014-2016). Loves The Usual Suspects. Hates Transformers 2. Everything else lies somewhere in the middle. Once met the Chuckle Brothers.