The 400-Word-Review: Trainwreck
By Sean Collier
July 21, 2015
The parentage of Trainwreck is evident without much scrutiny. Under the direction of Judd Apatow, it has both the pleasures and the headaches of his conversational, character-driven comedies; written by and starring Amy Schumer, it carries the quick wit and cutting-yet-charming humor that have made her the comedy star of the moment, while still clearly being the product of a first-time feature writer.
Fortunately, both Apatow and Schumer are very likable, and they do very likable work - which may be Trainwreck’s saving grace.
Amy (Schumer — presumably for branding purposes, her character is only ever referred to as Amy) is an upper-level editor at a lower-level men’s magazine, happily dating and drinking in Manhattan. When she’s charmed by Aaron (Bill Hader), athletic doctor to the stars, she finds herself grappling with the concept of monogamy; meanwhile, her moderately-wet blanket (damp blanket?) sister Kim (Brie Larson) is none too happy about the mounting bills being generated by their curmudgeonly father (Colin Quinn).
Though layered, it is admittedly a straight-down-the-line romcom; Trainwreck is not revolutionary or even particularly inventive, content to play well to a type. Though some of the characters, including Amy, may carry personality traits to an extreme, they’re all believable; there’s no one in this movie that can’t be found in the real New York. This isn’t Schumer’s excellent Comedy Central series, absurdist and incisive; in Trainwreck, Schumer plays it straight. While that might not make for the absolute best Amy Schumer script possible, it certainly bodes well for the box office take.
The funny and sometimes-lovely moments of Trainwreck, then, are found in spending time with these people. That does not, however, mean they do not wear out their welcome. Apatow, for the first time directing a script he did not write, still falls into the trap that has claimed all of his comedies: The guy cannot end a story. His third acts are all overlong, overwrought and overplayed; this tendency has done varying degrees of damage to his films, from forgivable (The 40-Year Old Virgin) to nearly fatal (Funny People). In Trainwreck, it’s not awful ... it just makes a long stretch of an otherwise lovely film pretty darn boring. And a climactic set piece just isn’t funny enough to right the ship.
It’s a testament to both artists, then, that Trainwreck is as good as it is - which is good enough. Let’s see what Schumer has next.
My Rating: 7/10
Sean Collier is the Associate Editor of Pittsburgh Magazine and a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Read more from Sean at pittsburghmagazine.com/afterdark