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Trainwreck - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Directing: B
Acting: B+
Writing: B+
Cinematography: B
Editing: B-

Maybe this is all part of Amy Schumer's genius plan: to lure an unsuspecting public in with broad romantic comedy strokes like the Pied Piper, only to blindside us with another movie later that has a truly original vision. We can only hope.

Because that original vision does not come in the form of Trainwreck, an otherwise very funny but ultimately very Judd Apatow-ian movie that follows formula to the letter. There's something to be said -- and even respected -- for the way Schumer subverts typical gender norms in all of her work, whether in her standup comedy or on her TV show or in this movie. But it's still marching to that same drum: potential couple meets; they date; one of them screws up and they're convinced they ruined everything; a truly preposterous, if entertaining, climax brings them back together. In other words: girl meets boy, girl loses boy, girl gets boy back.

At least this time "girl" comes first, but not even that is exactly revolutionary these days. Of course it strengthens the slowly changing tides, and it was heartening to see so many sold out shows on opening night. But there was something almost disappointing about it, this movie that's not even as raunchy as the trailers suggest.

--Emphasis on almost. Just because Trainwreck is hardly the best movie of the year doesn't mean it's not entertaining, which it objectively is. It's even touching, to the point that I can trot out my own clichés and still be sincere: I laughed, I cried. I laughed a lot, actually. And, as always with comedies, that's the only measure most people need, and the indicator of whether the movie is worth the time and money. For most audiences, it absolutely will be.

The run time, like virtually any Judd Apatow film, may be a tad too long at 125 minutes -- the laughs would have more lasting effect if tightened up at least a little -- but all these romantic comedy conventions are still saved from total tediousness by Schumer's singular sensibility. Schumer wrote the script, and although Apatow's direction ultimately makes the movie feel more his than hers, she still breaks through effectively. There's a lot to like about Trainwreck, imperfections notwithstanding, Schumer chief among them.

She plays a version of her own persona, also named Amy, an unapologetically slutty thirtysomething who took lessons from her father (a well-cast Colin Quinn) about the uselessness of monogamy to heart. We're treated to a montage of her one-night stands she treats the same way most men are shown in movies to be treating women -- like something to be tossed aside after orgasm -- until we meet Steven (John Cena), a gigantic body builder who is possibly closeted whom Amy is "sort of seeing" until he learns of her other conquests. And then she meets a sports physician named Aaron (Bill Hader, underrated) as the subject of a story she's assigned at the awful men's magazine where she works. (Her insensitive editor is played by the always brilliant Tilda Swinton, a woman who can disappear into a role even in a lark of a movie like this one.)

Aaron and Amy connect somehow, albeit with all the requisite awkwardness, and she goes home with him, only to be surprised by his call the next day to say what a nice time he had. He's spurred on by his buddy LeBron James, gamely playing an overly-empathetic version of himself. In spite of the clever trappings, we all know where this story is going, and in the end it goes exactly where we expect. But the actors across the board are irresistible, making you want to remain in their company in spite of how predictable the story is.

I want to see the movie where the woman is slutty and she realizes that's just the way she is and that's okay. Given the undertone of moralizing to every Judd Apatow movie, including this one, which gives Amy a sister (Brie Larsen) who is married (to a slightly underused Mike Birbiglia) and serves as an example of how much better a life of monogany is, this does beg the question: Is there actually some small element of slut shaming to Trainwreck? Discuss.

The flip side of that argument is that Apatow and Schumer are simply subverting genre conventions, and since in other movies that's the lesson men have to learn, here it's the woman who has to learn it. It's a compelling thought probably lost on most audiences, who just come for the laughs -- which, to be fair, these guys deliver. Schumer is clearly having a moment, with this movie at its pinnacle, giving even many who love her a feeling of reaching a pop culture saturation point. And maybe, just maybe, it's calculated in all the right ways: one of the better surprises of Trainwreck is the discovery that Schumer is actually a nuanced actress capable of more than mere comedy. This movie might not reach its own potential for greatness, but it reveals a potential in Schumer herself that leaves us eager to see what she has for us next.


Overall: B
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