Saturday, 15 August 2015

Film Review: Trainwreck

Trainwreck is a raunchy adult romantic comedy from director Judd Apatow; written by and starring 2015's comedy 'it-girl' Amy Schumer, Trainwreck bucks the trend of recent rom-coms by discarding drippiness for devastating wit and surprisingly likeable characters.

As the screenplay is written by Schumer herself, a lot of the story is actually semi-autobiographical and connected with her own past experiences; her character is also named Amy, and is also a witty, self-knowing 21st Century girl who lives her own life. You do get a sense that Schumer is really passionate and invested in the material, and it comes across in her performance and her delivery.

The central narrative of Amy (the character) righting herself and putting a stop to her wayward ways is also pretty cool. It was great to see a lead female character that wasn't afraid to show off her flaws and poor lifestyle choices. Schumer is uncompromising in real-life, and doesn't make any apologies for being crude and brash, which something that would've been harder to convey had they cast someone else in the role.

This really is her film through-and-through. That being said, the hype around Schumer has been insufferable this year. Sure, she's funny but blimey, you'd think she was the second coming of Christ the way the media have been singing her praises. Trainwreck is the product of that misplaced hype; it's good, better than most like it, but not the massive revelation everyone is talking about.

Plus, she shares a really genuine chemistry with her charming co-star, Bill Hader. In fact, Hader might've been the biggest surprise in this whole film. He's actually really funny and sweet as the caring surgeon who is able to look past Amy's checkered past and accept her for who she is. The first scene the two share is really great, with lots of electric back-and-forth banter zipping between them.

Someone else who really surprised me in this film was Brie Larson; she plays Amy's sister Kim, and the way in which the film showed how these two characters started in the same place and took different routes into adulthood was really interesting. Kim is like the polar opposite of Amy, and the film conveys this in a really clever way.

Trainwreck also has a raft of really great cameos who're used against type to brilliant effect; John Cena, LeBron James, Ezra Miller - the list goes on and on. I won't spoil some of the smaller and more obscure cameos, but they are pretty great.

That being said, the film is a little disjointed. At times, it does feel like there are four or five different things taking place, meaning that not only does the tone jump around and shift, but several strands feel superfluous. Schumer includes several scenes that would be more at home in her Comedy Central skit-show; funny, cleverly written, but not all that important in the overall narrative. One scene at a baby shower is a great example of this; it's funny, and there is some really great dialogue in there, but the purpose was nothing more than just being a placeholder.

At 122 minutes, the film does overstay its welcome just a fraction. I feel like I have this complaint a lot recently, but it's a common thing; with characters and dialogue this sharp, you want the film to match. Maybe dropping one or two of those stand-alone skit-like scenes would've helped trim the fat. The ending is really great though; I challenge anyone to watch the final scene between Schumer and Hader with a straight-face.

The Verdict: 7/10 

Trainwreck trades tiresome rom-com schmaltz for razor sharp wit and relatable characters. Schumer's passion project might lose itself with a few unnecessary tangents, but it's still a great deal better than most other comedies you'll see this year. 

Trainwreck is in cinemas across Australia now.

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