Comedienne Amy Schumer is the hot topic in comedy these days. Her show on Comedy Central, Inside Amy Schumer, is doing well and now it’s time for her big feature film breakout with Director Judd Apatow. But does Trainwreck deliver the goods or is it a disaster like its namesake?
The film follows Amy (Schumer), a writer for a men’s magazine who, for all intents and purposes, behaves like a stereotypical guy when it comes to her love life. She unapologetically sleeps around and is a hard drinker. These vices were inherited from her beloved father (Colin Quinn), who taught her “monogamy is not realistic.” Amy claims she’s happy with her personal life as she cheats on her latently homosexual boyfriend Steven (John Cena). Her younger sister, Kim (Brie Larson), has gone the more traditional route and is married with a stepson and a baby on the way. The two sisters butt heads over what to do with their father who has to be put in assisted living. Kim says that the community their father is in is too expensive, while Amy would do anything for him. At work, Amy is gunning for a promotion and her boss, Dianna (Tilda Swinton), assigns her to a story interviewing a prominent sports medicine surgeon, Aaron Conners (Bill Hader). Amy’s world is thrown completely out of whack when she and Aaron make a connection and she must decide if it is time to stop running from commitment or continue down her self-destructive path.
Amy Schumer is a funny lady and as the sole credited writer on this film, all the praise for how funny it can be has to be lauded onto her, because when this film is funny, it is FUNNY. However, being the sole writer is a double-edged sword and that means that Schumer also has to take the blame for all the things that do not work in this film. Like all of Judd Apatow’s other films, Trainwreck goes on far too long. This one clocks in at 124 minutes—the man really needs to be introduced to a good editor—but I feel that if Schumer had teamed with a more seasoned feature film screenwriter, at least 30 minutes could have been shaved off this movie to make it a tighter and ultimately funnier film. I praise Schumer for branching out here, though, because it’s not a non-stop laugh riot and she does go to some emotional places with the story, but many of the scenes just drag on far too long or kind of come out of nowhere. It felt like Apatow just let the camera keep rolling while the actors improvised, but no magic occurred, so they just awkwardly stopped. All of the scenes at Amy’s job felt like a waste to me. All of her co-workers are supposed to be vapid, superficial characters, but they didn’t even feel like real people to me. You know there’s a problem when Jeremy Jamm himself, Jon Glaser, can barely summon a chuckle out of me. There is a scene with Amy and office intern Donald (Ezra Miller) that is played for laughs, but just comes off as totally creepy. A lot of the scenes felt like funny bits that were strung together to make a movie—one of the funniest scenes is straight out of Schumer’s act—but overall the pacing felt off, like the story just didn’t flow properly. Schumer does have her rock bottom moment, but I felt like that moment should have come at the expense of Hader’s character. He says her drinking and partying affects him, but we never really see that. It was frustrating because I really wanted to love this film.
The cast does a great job here. Schumer shows a lot of range as she plays both comedy and drama, but even when she’s playing the dramatic scenes, she still has that mischievous half-smile going on and you’re not sure if you should be taking it all too seriously or not. Hader does a lot of yeoman’s work here as the straight man to Schumer’s antics and he has proven time and time again that he’s an absolute pro. His scenes with NBA star LeBron James are also hilarious. James plays a heightened version of himself and actually comes off very well here. Some of his best lines are spoiled in the trailers, but he gets in some good jokes and is a good sport. For me, though, the MVP of the film is Colin Quinn as Amy’s father. He steals every scene he’s in and is absolutely hilarious. His explanation to Amy and Kim about why he and their mother are getting divorced is priceless. John Cena is also funny as Amy’s clueless boyfriend. His “dirty talk” scene is great.
Overall, I have to chalk Trainwreck up as a disappointment. It has several funny scenes, but when you leave the theater and remember the times you were bored more than the big laughs, that’s a bad sign. The script is just too damn long for a comedy and I know that Apatow likes to sell his films as dramedies or real-life, but when the film stars one of the hottest comics in the nation and is marketed as a comedy, I expect more laughs per minute than I got from Trainwreck. It’s not exactly as disastrous as its namesake, but it’s definitely a derailment.