Director Judd Apatow is back and, despite stepping away from the scriptwriting duties (this time handled by comedy’s current “It” girl Amy Schumer), has created yet another wholly Apatovian work with Trainwreck. His staples are all there — the totally unlikable characters, the needlessly overstuffed plot, the infuriatingly overlong running time, the generally formless comedy and the inability to just stop running a joke into the ground. Apatow is Apatow’s biggest fan. This time, however, he and Schumer have added a thick layer of tired romcom formula (really, how many decades have we been complaining about this?) on top, making an already unenjoyable, dull movie totally predictable in the bargain. While Apatow never quite reaches the levels of insufferability he did with his last couple movies, Funny People (2009) and This is 40 (2012), he tries his damndest.
Schumer plays Amy, a magazine writer and serial dater who ends up reluctantly falling for a sports surgeon (Bill Hader). They struggle and get back together in the final reel. With some asides dealing with Amy’s job, Amy’s dying father (Colin Quinn) and Amy’s relationship with her sister (Brie Larson), that’s pretty much it. That’s the movie, and it takes 125 minutes to wade through this, what, 45 minutes’ worth of plot? The film feels suspiciously like the midpoint between Nancy Meyers’ upper-middle-class romantic fantasies and an Adam Sandler comedy, complete with “random” non-sequiturs and a needless parade of awkward or useless celebrity cameos.
The general pointlessness and waste that went into the film are amazing, while the general entertainment value — allowing for the subjectivity of humor — is in my view pretty much nil. Schumer’s whole schtick seems to be that she can be just as crass and insipid as any man can be, playing off the whole Bridesmaids (2011) conceit that women have bodily functions, too. I’m all for women undermining the expectations society puts on them, but Trainwreck gets it wrong in a couple of ways. What could’ve been some sort of examination of monogamy in modern times, especially within the construct of a romantic comedy — the squarest of movie genres —could’ve been genuinely subversive. Here, it’s not. This is the epitome of generic — something that the patina of raunchiness cannot overcome.
It might help if any of the main characters were likable. Amy is self-centered and — as a character — devoid of any interests or humanity. The best she’s given is an unimpeachable love for her dad and a drinking problem, the latter of which, at least, isn’t handled in any serious or realistic way. Again, this is an aspect of the film — much like Amy’s promiscuity — that could’ve been used for something more, but Apatow and Schumer have no clue what that more is. What we get is Apatow with his usual pastiche, Schumer with her romcom laziness — and nothing more. Rated R for strong sexual content, nudity, language and some drug use.