Thursday, July 30, 2015


*** out of ****

I’ve finally seen the Amy Schumer/Judd Apatow collaboration, Trainwreck. Apatow’s showbiz influence continues to outshine the wasted expensive efforts of his former roommate, Adam Sandler. He actually has an appreciation for the complications of human relationships and while he continues to see movie projects as an excuse to show characters who work with celebrities, he knows how to utilize all those "as himself/herself" performances beautifully. I never thought LeBron James would have such a funny screen presence.

Director aside, Schumer’s screenplay - and performance - give us the fearless sexuality of a shameless man-using heavy drinker as she confronts her fears of emotional commitment.

Schumer provides multiple aspects for her fictional surrogate to justify the character's many issues. The movie opens with a flashback childhood scene where her shockingly unfiltered father, played with excellent rudeness by Colin Quinn, explains without reservations to Amy and her sister, Kim, that he is leaving their mother because, "Monogamy isn't realistic."

In the present day, Amy is single and working as a top writer for a Manhattan-based racy pop-culture magazine, known as "S'Nuff." Her hilariously soulless boss (Tilda Swinton) assigns her an interview piece on a doctor (the great Bill Hader) famous for working with professional athletes. This is of no interest to Amy who doesn't like sports, but when they meet, there is an immediate connection, even though he is a man of self-control, starved for intimacy and she can't keep count of the amount of men she's slept with -even in the past year.

Meanwhile she keeps in touch with Kim (the beautiful Brie Larson), as they deal with caring for their father who is suffering from multiple sclerosis and has been admitted to a nursing home. Amy is forgiving of her father's flaws, while much closer to him than Kim, who, much to Amy's annoyance, has taken a conventional path in life, forsaking her father's ways, and finding contentment with a supporting husband (the self-deprecating Mike Birbiglia) and children.

As Amy's relationship with the good-willed doctor continues, her anxiety begins to escalate in reaction to his sincere love for her which she doesn't know how to return, even if she feels it for him as well.

Apatow, oftentimes seems to be making movies that are, structurally speaking, dramas with funny players involved who have the freedom to riff and render everything comedic. He gives most characters a degree of emotional justification for their attitudes. I have never seen Amy Schumer's TV show or stand-up, but I've had the impression, through interviews, that she also has the same need for important meaning behind sordid laughs. This movie really demonstrates a good pairing between artists.

Like all Apatow films, there are several scenes that could have been reserved for home release extras. Hell, Funny People suffered so much from this problem, it could have been broken up into different movies and given more room for critics to encourage Adam Sandler to continue the righteous path. But I digress. What I'm trying to say is that this is a good two-hour movie that only comes close to feeling indulgent. Were it not for Apatow's continuing refusal to shape a comedy by way of trimming its length, it would have been even better.

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