Trainwreck Plot Summary:
New York men’s magazine writer, Amy (Amy Schumer), is terrified of commitment, constantly having one night stands, and drinking every night. When she’s forced to write an article on a sports doctor (Bill Hader), her lifestyle is tested when she starts to fall for him.
I’ll just rip the band-aid right off, and tell you that within the first fifteen minutes of Trainwreck (director Judd Apatow’s latest opus), I considered walking out. This was painful. As the movie goes along, it becomes just below tolerable, enough so that I was able to sit in the theater and finish the film. How’s that for a backhanded compliment? Aside from The 40 Year-Old Virgin, I’m no fan of Judd Apatow, so keep that in mind. Only seeing Amy Schumer in doses, I’m no fan of her either, so chances are I was never going to like this film. I gave it a chance though, and suffice it to say, Trainwreck and I did not get along. All I can do is tell you why, so let’s get this over with, because this film has already wasted enough of my time.
If you’ve seen the trailer, Amy Schumer’s character is exactly as advertised. She’s constantly drinking, crass, sarcastic, and terrified at even the thought of going on a second date with a guy. Schumer also wrote the film, and the character herself is named Amy, so take that for what it’s worth. In the beginning of the movie, her father (Colin Quinn) drills into the heads of her and her sister (Brie Larson) that monogamy is simply unrealistic. So whenever we see Amy with her sister’s happy family, she’s always bitter, and putting her down. Here’s the one nice thing I’ll say about Trainwreck – while the movie wants you to like Amy, it doesn’t celebrate her point of view. The movie constantly calls her out on her crap, and there is a character arc for her, so at least the film’s heart is in the right place.
Let’s talk about Amy Schumer. For the most part, she’s okay. It’s really a mixed bag. I understand the character is supposed to be difficult and cold, and there are points where Schumer was able to make me chuckle. It could have been worse. But there are too many instances where she takes the obnoxious factor too far, to the point of absurdity. The first couple scenes are painful. She’s like a female Barney Stinson, only not funny. I’m not saying you have to like your protagonist, but she’s so cold to the point where you don’t want to go through a two hour movie with her. Her voice over and choice of dialogue at times is like needles in your ears. She also contaminates everyone around her. There’s an early scene with her co-worker, Nikki (Vanessa Bayer), where Nikki says stuff like “Oh my god, what happened last night? I saw your Instagram!” The line itself can be tolerable, but she delivers it like a teenage girl. As the film goes on, Schumer does become more endearing, which I suppose is the point. She is far from the main problem though, as that honor goes to Judd Apatow.
The biggest crime this movie commits is that it’s FAR TOO LONG! ARE YOU KIDDING ME, JUDD APATOW?! Seriously dude, cut me a damn break. Over two hours for a film of this ilk is completely unnecessary. A first time film editor could have easily cut 45 minutes. It goes on and on and on and on and on and on and on. There’s a scene where Lebron James has an intervention for Bill Hader’s character, and it’s only an excuse to show off the celebrity cameos Judd Apatow knows. It serves no purpose whatsoever. And just like in any Aptow movie, the tone is all over the place. It’s like a tornado went through a Blockbuster Video and all the tapes flew off into different genres. What a mess. There are so many jokes that could have worked, but Apatow has no clue how to end a bit, and rambles on till the end of time.
Let’s talk about those jokes. Crude sexual humor can absolutely work, and it can work in spades. The problem with Judd Apatow is that he forces the crudeness. It has to come naturally. He’s trying so hard to be edgy and real. There’s a sex scene between Schumer and John Cena that has potential, but Apatow goes far too long with it just because he can. There’s another sequence where Amy is with a bunch of moms talking about risky acts they’ve done, and of course they’re all tame, so when it gets to Amy, you know it’s going to be crazy! Apatow forces the most outrageous speech possible, that could have been funny if it wasn’t so telegraphed. It’s like watching a Michael Bay movie. He gives you so many explosions, you become numb to it all. Apatow gives you so much crudeness, you can’t appreciate it. Films like There’s Something About Mary, and even the first American Pie, pull this off brilliantly. Apatow does not.
The cast is hit or miss. Bill Hader turns in his usual whatever performance. Colin Quinn is Colin Quinn. I don’t even have the energy to talk about him. Tilda Swinton, who plays Amy’s boss, is pretty funny, and one of the few bright spots. You got Jon Glaser (Councilman Jamm from Parks and Recreation) who’s also very good. John Cena is also surprisingly funny, even if he’s under cut by Apatow’s direction. There’s also a couple big time cameos that were very funny, but I won’t spoil it. I’ll even give Lebron James credit. At times, he’s actually amusing, but he’s way over used. That’s another complaint I have, all the sports references. There’s literally a scene where Bill Hader just rattles off sports stars. Wow. We get it, Amy and Judd. You like sports, and follow ESPN. Great. Good for you.
I’ll give Amy Schumer another chance. If held back, she could be funny. For me though, this is the ultimate Judd Apatow pile of crap. He has no filter. There’s a sequence with Amy and her intern (Ezra Miller) that is supposed to be awkward, but it gets to the point where you’re uncomfortable, and don’t want to be in the theater anymore. That’s what Apatow does best. Anything that could be funny, he ruins it. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but if this script was in the hands of Paul Feig, it could have been decent. For those of you saying, “You’re not an Apatow fan, the film is getting great reviews,” I’ll just say the film had big laughs in the first half hour, but as the movie went along, those laughs became smaller and smaller, and more than one person commented on the length as we walked out of the theater. If I can express any words of wisdom in this review, it’s this – comedies should never be more than 100 minutes.
Rating: 3.5 out of 10 (Atrocious)
Daniel Cohen is the Film Editor for Pop-Break. Aside from reviews, Daniel does a weekly box office predictions column, and also contributes monthly Top Tens and Op-Ed’s on all things film. Daniel is a graduate of Bates College with a degree in English, and also studied Screenwriting at UCLA. He can also be read on www.movieshenanigans.com. His movie crush is Jessica Rabbit. Follow him on Twitter @dcohenwriter.