One Liner Review:
It’s not anything especially fresh or unique, but it’s just a familiar kind of story done really well, with nice humor and timing.
An often funny movie about a woman who lives and dies by the one-night stand. Amy Shumer plays a character named Amy who is an absolute player. When it comes time to get serious in a relationship, she doesn’t know how to handle it at all, and that becomes the fun of this movie. The guy she chooses to roll with is Aaron (Bill Hader), who is pretty much the exact opposite of her. He’s a straight-arrow kind of guy who lives a very different lifestyle, and has buddies like Lebron James to bounce his ideas off of. Amy, meanwhile, has a funny job situation, surrounded by lively coworkers. All of this makes for a pretty enjoyable movie. The humor isn’t always great, and neither is the plot, but there’s enough good in both of them to keep this movie constantly afloat.
Trainwreck is the latest movie by director Judd Apatow, a man who has revolutionized the comedy industy. Unfortunately he’s done it more as a producer than as a director. The movies that really shook things up are the ones he had in his in, and helped get made, but didn’t direct himself. From Superbad to Forgetting Sarah Marshal to Bridesmaids, Apatow has been there for it all. But as a director, he has been very hit and miss over the years. His first two movies, The 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up, were both great. His last two, This is 40 and Funny People, were lousy. And with that track record he comes into Trainwreck, a movie that, (like Bridesmaids), has tapped a female star to write and act in as the lead.
That star is Amy Shumer. She is a very funny standup, not that far off from Sarah Silverman in that she says what she wants, is all about sex, and thinks the rest of us are idiots if we don’t get it. Shumer’s show, Inside Amy Shumer, is very smart and funny, but it also sometimes tends to feel like Saturday Night Live in that each sketch relies on just one single joke told over and over again in different ways. With Trainwreck, she is trying her hand at romantic comedy, and for the most part, she pulls it off.
The movie is good. It’s far from anything great, or hilarious, but there are a number of laughs, and it’s definitely interesting and entertaining. The movie features Shumer, Bill Hader, and Lebron James. It also has a nice supporting cast including Vanessa Bayer (An SNL alumn like Hader), Brie Larson, Tilda Swinton, and Colin Quinn, playing Shumer’s father. The storyline is about a woman who is basically the opposite of Steve Carell’s character in The 40 Year Old Virgin. This girl is a player and she gets around, making no bones about it. For her, the one-night stand isn’t an occasional occurrence, it’s a way of life.
At the start of the movie, we get a bit of an introduction about why Amy is this way. She and her sister are just young girls sitting on the hood of a car, listening to their father give them a talk about why he and their mother are getting divorced. He presents them with an analogy about dolls that explains how he loves their mother but he also wants to see other women too. He asks Amy’s sister, Kim, if she loves her doll. Then he says, “What if I told you that this was the only doll you could ever play with for the rest of your life?” It gets even funnier as he starts giving examples of different situations, leading to his overall message that monogamy is unrealistic.
From here we meet adult Amy at her work. Amy works for a men’s magazine, like Maxim, that is all about sports, working out, and getting women. Hearing the staff meetings and the different ideas for articles they can write, being tossed around, is a lot of fun. One such title, for example, is “You’re not gay, she’s just boring.” Another example has her friend, Nikki (Bayer) get assigned to reseatch what men’s ejaculate tastes like after the men finish eating garlic. Nikki’s reaction of asking how she’s supposed to research this, is priceless.
Amy’s sister, Kim is also a big part of her life, as her best friend, outside of work. She and her sister share responsibilty of taking care of their father, putting him in different assisted living facilities and cleaning out his old house. Kim is married to a man who had a son before she knew him, and so she is the step mother to this boy. The boy is very effeminite, and it’s a running gag of both Amy and her father making fun of Kim, for not being the real mom, and marrying into this situation. It sounds harsher than it is, but the boy is definitely used for laughs quite a bit. This storyline only really gets funny when Kim gets pregnant herself and everyone pretends like she is now going to be a mom for the first time, despite Kim continually insisting that she is already a mom.
The real story of the movie is about Amy dating. In the early portions of the film, she does have a semi-boyfriend, or a regular hookup guy. This guy is Steven, played by John Cena, the big and buff professional wrestler. His character is a nice, sweet, dummy, and Amy talks about him like he’s a sculpture made of ice. There is a running joke to his character about how he says the wrong things when it comes to talking dirty. In bed, when Amy tries to get him to do it, he just says sports references. Then at a movie theater, he says comments to a guy that all come off as gay. The joke is supposed to be the Steven doesn’t realize what he’s saying and how it sounds. Most of it is not very funny, and instead, just repetitive, but there are a few moments here and there that do work. Mainly the one where he tells Amy when he saw her from behind, he thought she was a guy, and what he does immediately after saying this.
Amy breaks up with Steven and starts seeing Aaron,(Bill Hader), a sports doctor who she is writing an article about. Aaron takes her out to dinner one evening and they end up having a one-night stand. The cab ride leading up to this is hilarious. Aaron thinks the night is over and tells the cab driver two stops, only Amy has other ideas in mind. Watching Hader’s reaction throughout this turn of events, including going up to his apartment, is absolutely hilarious. In fact, it’s the best sequence in the entire movie. And by the end of it, he is left more confused than anything else.
From there, the movie turns into a relationship film. At first it’s that they are on very different wavelenghts. He wants her to sleep over and to cuddle. She wants a pillow in between them, and wants him facing up to the ceiling, not breathing on her. When there relationship does take off, we start getting a bunch of funny scenes involving Lebron James. He plays himself, but also Aaron’s best friend and gossip buddy. Watching Aaron and Lebron talk about girls is like watching the nerdy version of Vaughn and Favreau in Swingers. There’s a great moment where Lebron actually confronts Amy and asks her about her intentions.
The movie works because the story works. The humor is hit and miss, and sprinkled throughout the film here and there. This film definitely tries to be funny all the time, but only some of it actually works. More often than not, we get extreme scenes, like the one that takes place in a hotel room between Amy and a crazy intern, that aren’t very funny at all. But the story and characters are pretty solid, and they keep us interested. Even when the movie goes down the usual romantic comedy path of dating, fight, break up, get back together, we still stay in it. Maybe that’s because of the ways this film gets creative with extra scenes, such as one that involves Marv Albert showing up to give commentary. For Amy Shumer’s breakout movie, this one is pretty good. It’s certainly Apatow’s best film in a long while, and an enjoyable time.