Starring: Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, Brie Larson
Directed by: Judd Apatow (“Knocked Up”)
Written by: Amy Schumer (debut)
After years of gaining respect in the stand-up comedy world, the recent seven Emmy nominations for her TV show “Inside Amy Schumer” solidified the titular comedian as a super successful TV star. In fact, there may not be a hotter name in the world of comedy right now. In a landscape where it almost isn’t enough for a comedian to just do stand up, Schumer looks to expand her career, which is already red-hot and become the latest to cross over from the stage to bonafide movie star in the Judd Apatow directed “Trainwreck.”
On an assignment to write a story about a surgeon who works with athletes, magazine writer Amy (Schumer), visits Dr. Aaron Conners (Bill Hader). Despite good chemistry, Amy is too driven by her no commitment lifestyle and is reluctant to get involved on a deeper level. But slowly and surely, she starts to fall for Conners and wonder if, despite what her father ingrained in her as a child, that monogamy really is realistic.
The smartest thing that Schumer and Apatow did in making “Trainwreck” was surrounding Schumer with a really talented comedic cast. Actors like Colin Quinn, John Cena, a totally incognito Tilda Swinton and a surprisingly game LeBron James pop in and out, consistently stealing scenes. In fact, a good chunk of the funniest moments of the film come from people who aren’t Schumer or Hader. As for Schumer herself, everyone knows her comedic skills, but she proves to be an impressive actress with dramatic chops when the film calls for it.
Script and story-wise, a lot of “Trainwreck” feels like well-treaded ground. Commitment issues and arrested development are the main themes, something that Apatow is familiar with, yet him and Schumer don’t do anything particularly new or interesting with it. On the other hand, the romantic storyline with Schumer and Hader does work, and leads to some pretty sweet moments throughout the film, mostly from Hader who proves himself to be an apt romantic lead. The script is also extremely inconsistent in laughs. Jokes only hit half of the time, and when they do, they are more of the amusing type than the belly laugh.
Unfortunately in “Trainwreck,” Apatow brought his worst tendencies and most frequent knock on him as a director. The comedy is completely bloated. Many times a movie can just “feel” too long, but rarely do you have a case like in “Trainwreck” where you can actually point to obvious scenes that just don’t have a purpose and the film could lose without sacrificing anything. Scenes like a way too long bathroom stall conversation about Johnny Depp with a camera only on the legs of the girls and a completely awful intervention scene with LeBron James, Matthew Broderick, Chris Evert and a woefully out of place Marv Albert are completely superfluous and belong on a deleted scenes reel.
It may seem like there is a lot to dislike about “Trainwreck,” but only because it’s flaws shine more brightly than the good parts of the film. Make no mistake, “Trainwreck” has enough charm and fun performances to scrape by. Scrape being the operative word. With some restraint in the editing bay (I’m talking at least 30 minutes that could go), a tighter, more consistently funny script, Schumer and Apatow could have had a pretty successful comedy. Instead, what we have is a nice, entertaining and ultimately forgettable comedy, which can’t help but feel like a little bit of a letdown given Apatow’s pedigree.