Monday, 24 August 2015

Trainwreck (4½ Stars)

This is one of the funniest films I've seen for a long time. It's a romantic comedy that follows the pre-defined rules of rom-coms, but the comedy element is in the foreground. It's a romantic comedy with a small R and a capital C. It was written by Amy Schumer, who also has the lead role. The character in the film is called Amy, which points to the fact that she's playing herself, as far as the personality is concerned.

Amy is a writer for a magazine called S'Nuff. Please don't forget the apostrophe. She leads a promiscuous lifestyle, because she believes that monogamy is unnatural. Her preference is for big strong men, all muscle and no brains. She has a selfish attitude to sex. She likes men to go down on her, but afterwards she often pretends to fall asleep, because giving a man pleasure bores her. Even if she does have intercourse with a man it's her rule that they don't spend the night together. No romance after the sex is over, it's not allowed.

Of course, like in the classical German Novellas, there has to be a turning point, leading to a chain of events over which the protagonists have no power. Amy has to interview a sports doctor for her magazine. He's not like the men she usually dates. He's intelligent and has a smaller build, but she falls in love with him. Of course, she doesn't use the L word, because she's in denial, but the audience knows it's love.

I would probably have given the film five stars if the doctor, played by Bill Hader, weren't such a dull character. I realise this is deliberate, a straight man as a contrast for Amy's comedy antics, but I think it's overdone. Bill could have played the role with a bit more spice.

Amy, on the other hand, is brilliant. I'd never even heard of her until recently, when she created a scandal by posing as Princess Leia in a photo shoot for GQ magazine. This was done without permission from Disney, the company which owns Star Wars, and possibly makes the magazine guilty of copyright infringements. That's a question for lawyers to decide.

Another recent incident was the red carpet at the Time 100 Gala, where Amy Schumer deliberately fell over in front of Kanye West, the "greatest living rock star on the planet". The photo says it all. Everyone in the room was laughing. Even Kim Kardashian cracked a smile. Only Kanye kept a straight face. If he had laughed with everyone else he would have retained his pride, but by being the only person in the room with a glum face it made him look like a fool.

Also worth mentioning is John Cena, better known as a WWE wrestler. Did Amy write the role of her boyfriend Steven with him in mind? I suspect so. He's a very intelligent, articulate man in real life, but in the film he's the complete opposite, a stupid person incapable of putting words together to make appropriate sentences in any situation.

Then there's the film within a film, starring Daniel Radcliffe as the Dog Walker. I hope this mini-film will be available as an extra feature on the Blu-ray.

P. S. I've repeated the rules of romantic comedies so often, but here they are once more for anyone who's too lazy to search my old posts:
  1. Girl meets boy.
  2. The girl doesn't like the boy, but as time goes on she grows to like him.
  3. Girl and boy go different ways. (Sometimes geographically, sometimes she returns to an ex-lover).
  4. Girl realises she can't live without the boy and returns to him.
Don't make me repeat myself again!


  1. Bill Hader is still far from slight, just looks that way next to Le Bron James. I found their bromance mostly annoying, so for me that was a further negative on top of your straight man point.
    Amy is very good in much of the film, but can be predictable at times with some punchlines. When she is made to look foolish but so learns for the better, then it is mostly a worthwhile moment.
    Also this is her first full feature film as a writer. It helped to have a well known director, but I did find the structure and clash of tone with her family issues just a bit of a weakness. I also sat stone faced for at least 15 minutes total, so as good as the best laughs were, there were some periods I wanted to fast forward but couldn't.
    Still a great afternoon overall with you and the others.

    1. It's typical for the "romantic comedy" genre that the humour is packed into the first half, and the second half concentrates on the romance. Nevertheless, the second half had a lot of humour, just not as much as the first.

      I see what you mean about Bill Hader. He probably is quite tall, but he looked like a wimp, not just compared to Lebron, but also compared to John Cena. That's why Amy said she liked kissing a man his height, referring to the fact that she didn't have to lean up as much as she was used to.

  2. The film had some real merits but perhaps another collaboration of Amy and Judd Apatow would yield better focus and not have (very well-done I must emphasize) drama sitting next to very slapstick and mindless entertainment.

    1. I like Judd Apatow's films, but do you really think the strength of "Trainwreck" was due to him? For me it was Amy Schumer who was responsible for the film's hilarity. I suspect the film would have been just as good in the hands of any other director with experience in making comedies. That's just hypothetical, though.

    2. I found her both the best thing and one of the weakest components depending on which scene it was. She just isn't what I regard as consistently funny and meaningful. Perhaps if I met her and she was charming I'd think differently but I'm not in the Hollywood scene... :)
      How much Apatow and Schumer worked together is an unknown, at least until a half-decent documentary is released on Blu ray/dvd. I could look on youtube but the film was only pretty good, so can wait a few weeks and that.


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