In Which Trainwreck Offers But One Saving Grace

It Is Offensive


dir. Judd Apatow
125 minutes

No matter what Trainwreck refers to, it is offensive. If it refers to Amy Townsend (Amy Schumer), it is offensive, since she has a decent job working for a men’s magazine under a woman named Dianna (Tilda Swinton), and a boyfriend whose body is almost completely hairless. If it refers to the movie itself; probably the most joyless, pointless waaaah released since Apatow’s last film, This Is 40, it is offensive, since they never should have released anything to theaters quite this bad or unfunny.

The one saving grace of Trainwreck is that there are no fat jokes, since Ms. Schumer has lost a lot of weight to play this role and her body looks every bit as impressive as the physique of her boyfriend Steven (John Cena, a former professional bodybuilder). Whoever had the idea to cast a wrestler as a closeted homosexual is offensive. Cena can’t act either, and a long sex scene where Amy begs him to attempt dirty talk is more dull than amusing. The moment ends when he hangs a washcloth on his penis.

Amy Townsend’s real love interest is Aaron Conners (Bill Hader), whose face resembles Scrooge McDuck’s ungainly visage. He is completely ridiculous as an innovator in sports medicine whose best friend is LeBron James. James’ acting is actually worse than Cena’s, and he gets plenty of screen time in Trainwreck. Casting non-actors in major roles is pretty much the easiest way there is to make your movie an absolute chore to sit through, and Apatow should know better.

Also getting screen time for some reason is Colin Quinn, whose preposterous performance as Amy’s offensive father makes the film even stupider. Everyone else in Amy’s father’s life is sick of the old man’s act, and soon enough watching Trainwreck we are too. Fortunately Quinn’s lame character dies about halfway through the film. His passing is a breath of fresh air; he was also wildly age-inappropriate for his part.

The smart move would have been to put a cast of talented performers around Amy to distract from her inexperience in more serious roles. This would have made her scenes about 100x easier than the painfully paced slog they are. It actually isn’t just the cameos that make Trainwreck a chore to sit through: Apatow and Schumer cast a bunch of stand-up comics and comedians around her, none of whom are experienced actors except for Tilda Swinton. Unsurprisingly, Amy’s scenes with Swinton are the best that Trainwreck offers. The rest seems like the awful machinations of an improv troup at a summer camp.

There is nothing remotely real about anything that happens in Trainwreck. This movement away from verisimilitude initially seems fortuitous after Apatow made a not-very well received film about his family life. Alas, Trainwreck is not bizarre in any kind of silly or fun fashion. It is just impossible to imagine this group of callous, unfeeling white people ever wanting to even interact with each other. Besides Amy, not a single person in Trainwreck even laughs.

As a star vehicle, Schumer writes herself as a depressing molotov cocktail of a human being. It is obvious from her Comedy Central series and her incisive standup that she has more to offer than the backwards tale of a woman who has to be ashamed of her own sexuality, but none of that is in Trainwreck. It is a serious step back for everyone involved.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.

“Doing What You’re Told” – Josh Pyke (mp3)

“Someone To Rust With” – Josh Pyke (mp3)

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