Trainwreck Review

(3.5 STARS)

Trainwreck is just the funniest Hollywood comedy in years. No big deal.

It generates its laughs by subverting and embracing in equal measure the romantic comedy formula, and because it can do the former so well, it feels fresher than it ever ought to. Though the Amy-Schumer-penned film suffers from Apatow-itis—symptoms include fever, aches, and compulsively checking the time because what you’re watching is 20-30 minutes too long—it’s tougher to identify fat vs. muscle. Most of what Trainwreck has to do and say is worthwhile. It’s Apatow’s best directorial effort since The 40-Year-Old Virgin.

Schumer also stars in the film as Amy, a talented magazine writer who drinks and sleeps around way too much. At least that’s what her married sister, Kim (Brie Larson), thinks. Amy is happy with her choices. In fact, when faced with something more than a romp—even if that something is simply sleeping over afterward—she runs. Literally and uncomfortably (heels, man).

Her latest assignment at work introduces her to Dr. Aaron Connors (Bill Hader), a sports surgeon who is about to put (former) Knicks star Amar’e Stouemire under the knife for a revolutionary knee procedure. She’s profiling him, and as she’s wont to do, the professional relationship turns sexual. But something weird is happening with Amy—something she can’t quite understand or explain. She wants to see him again? She actually likes him?!?

Trainwreck‘s skewering of expectations began with its conception. Let’s not underestimate how rare it is to see a woman in a role like Schumer’s. Men typically get to play the field in movies before deciding it’s time to settle down thanks to the love and attention of a doe-eyed beauty. On the rare occasion that a woman leads a film like this, she’s a hardened career-driven type-A who learns how to loosen up thanks to a chiseled hunk whom she’s happy to give up everything for.

Trainwreck isn’t at all the latter. In fact, its treatment of Amy’s career is another source of delicious satire. It’s hard to think of a recent film that’s as amusingly cynical about the magazine industry than this one. Tilda Swinton, Vanessa Bayer, and especially Ezra Miller are hilarious and very committed as Amy’s boss, coworker, and intern, respectively. And the stories she and her colleagues pitch are just appalling. (Who’s excited to read a cover story about the best ways to masturbate at work?)

Schumer gets all the film’s best material and hits every great joke or scene of the park in what ought to be a true star-making performance. As her second banana, Bill Hader does great work. He’s on a roll of late.

Arguably the most surprising(ly successful) performances in the film come from WWE star John Cena and the NBA’s LeBron James. Two of the biggest names in their respective sports shed vanity and, really, anything resembling huge off-screen celebrity. LeBron is playing a fictional version of himself, a frugal superstar who’s also the closest thing the film has to a nurturing, traditionally motherly role. Cena is Steven, who’s basically Cena but sensitive, yet he’s great and down for poking fun at himself.

I’m not sure what Trainwreck should cut, if anything, but it does tend to drag here and there. Every time it seems as if the film might lose you, however, it snaps back into form with a sharp barb or an uproarious scenario. And right down to its ludicrous but perfect conclusion, it wears its heart—equal parts black and beating—on its sleeve.

So go ahead. Find a funnier film this year. I dare you.

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  1. Pingback: Reviews: Trainwreck (2015) | Online Film Critics Society

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