Thankfully, in name only.
Although his latest directorial effort Trainwreck mostly misses the mark, and fails to keep up the standard of the greats - 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up - there's still just about enough Apatow in this to keep you involved.Far from a prolific filmmaker, this is actually only the fifth film from Judd Apatow as a director, and none of them have really been trainwrecks; not even one that goes by that name. Even without his name attached to the writing credits, star Amy Schumer’s script takes on a very Apatow-esque guise when brought to life before the camera, probably in large part due to his trademark improv riffs, where characters simply rant at each other and the best lines are kept in the final cut. These are the highlights in a sometimes fumbling romantic comedy which yearns so desperately to be different, but ultimately follows the course of... just about every other romantic comedy ever, which was arguably something you’d have hoped never to see from the man.Schumer’s narrative gets off to a great start, with a dad trying to explain to his young daughters the reasons behind the infidelity that broke up his marriage with their mum – using dolls as a tool – and this sets the stage for the painfully detached lead character (Schumer) to cut a swathe through a bunch of drunken one night stands, avoiding even spending a whole night together, let alone actually close to committing to somebody, beyond a brainless bodybuilder played hilariously by John Cena. Until she meets a quirky sports injury doctor (Bill Hader) who actually somehow manages to break down some of her barriers and get... a second date.
Comedies of this ilk (often springing from the broader Apatow production umbrella) frequently attempt to portray the most unpleasant characters you can find, in a bid to somehow ‘fix’ them along the way, in redemptive arcs that mirror the romantic trajectory that they are taking. It’s the romantic dramedy equivalent to a corrupt cop thriller; a tried and tested routine. Apatow has generally favoured real characters, though, rather than outright clichés, or exaggerated caricatures, using embellished situations to further his comedy without robbing from the merit of their very relatable core. Trainwreck dashes this in reckless abandon, in favour of a more traditional redemptive-arc-meets-up-and-down-rom-com arc, and threatens to alienate its audiences as a result.
Even a mid-range effort from Apatow is still a cut above.
For every glimmer of something you can smile knowingly about, there’s a smothering of over-the-top stupidity, the likes of which only exists in the movie comedy world, a world which – for the most part – Apatow has (thankfully) shown little interest in. Still, Hader proves something of a saving grace, toning it down for a remarkably likeable co-lead, and Schumer still proves endearing, even if painfully so, and, even on an off day, there’s still some enjoyment to be had with anything from this filmmaker – this is no exception.
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