Andrew Hates… TRAINWRECK

Dir: Judd Apatow, 2015

Since she was a child, Amy Townsend’s father dealt with his own failures as a husband by instilling into her the belief that “monogamy isn’t realistic”. Twenty-three years later, Amy is working as a writer for a seedy men’s magazine to fund her intemperate, promiscuous lifestyle. However, Amy soon finds herself questioning the gospel according to Pa when she starts falling for her latest subject – a sweet and successful sports doctor named Aaron Connors.

“They fuck you up, your mum and dad”, said Philip Larkin in his 1971 poem This Be the Verse. Even though Larkin’s father was an attendee of Nuremberg rallies twice over and decorated his office with Nazi regalia, when it comes daddy issues this poet got nothin’ on Amy. Saturday Night Live stand-up Colin Quinn is exceptional as Amy’s firebrand father who serves as the instigator for Schumer’s story. Taking his adolescent daughters aside and using dolls to explain their mother’s supposedly unfair marital expectations is by far one of the funniest opening scenes you’ll see this year.

Jumping ahead into Amy’s “adult” life, we find her in New York City living the very same fractured perception of human relationships while her sister Kim has gone the opposite route of marriage, children and a frank resentment of her father. From here on, we follow Amy on a journey of self-evaluation and social ineptitude as Schumer dissects traditional scopes of women in film without once patronising or lecturing her audience.

The director’s first film in which he didn’t pen the script, Judd Apatow (The 40-Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up) clearly revels in the pith and spirit that Schumer brings to the table and for once doesn’t feel the need to wear out the film’s welcome with a protracted running time. Schumer’s screenplay brings the same satirical, sideways-glance at sex, family, relationships and gender politics that her Comedy Central sketch show Inside Amy Schumer excels at but leans further away from farce than most modern American comedies do.

As with Apatow’s previous productions, Trainwreck serves as a pleasant outlet for comics to dust off their dramatic skills and both Schumer and Bill Hader are as comprehensive a couple as this film could ever ask for. Even Apatow’s assembled circumference of thespians and sportspersons bring their comedy A-game in roles that round out the film’s performances instead of simply turning heads with fleeting cameos. Tilda Swinton gives us another transformative turn as Amy’s merciless editor and John Cena is hilarious as a roided-up closet case but it’s Lebron James’ incendiary performance as a penny-pinching version of himself that bags the most laughs of Apatow’s razor-sharp support cast.

If there is indeed a casualty within Trainwreck, it is Schumer’s attempts to grasp a fashionable foothold in the pop culture of today. A string of Johnny Depp jokes, Game of Thrones references and a film-within-a-film starring Daniel Radcliffe and Marisa Tomei fall flat enough to bring Trainwreck’s delirious trip to an excruciating halt. Fortunately these faults are few and far between and as soon as we’re back to Amy’s commitment catastrophes, the gags accelerate again.

As boorish as it is delightful, Trainwreck is a filthy specimen with a heart of absolute gold that many will find hard not to be won over by. Leading the charge as a witty and subversive tale of contemporary romance, Trainwreck powers full-throttle through the 21st century, with any luck, bringing Hollywood along for the ride.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Watch the trailer here.

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Andrew Hates… THIS IS 40

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Dir: Judd Apatow, 2013

Knocked Up’s Pete and Debbie are both turning 40 and begin to enter mid-life crisis mode. Their marriage starts to suffer as they try to deal with all the difficulties that come with couples their age.

Often do we look at charming or intriguing supporting characters in film and long to see more. But on the rare occasion where a spin-off feature is actually delivered, expectations are almost always flattened upon leaving the theatre. The likes of US Marshalls, X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Get Him to the Greek all explored lovable characters but none retained the same flair and allure as their predecessors. Yet with This Is 40, Judd Apatow manages to maintain a very strong foothold on the triumph of 2007’s Knocked Up.

We pick up five years down the road from where we left Pete and Debbie – still in a rut where the security of their marriage depends on the day of the week. Knocked Up took pregnancy as a scenario and painted a contemporary and honest affair while tingeing it with dashes of hilarity, with great success. But where Knocked Up’s limited potential gives out, This Is 40’s long-term captivation continues with its lead characters. Apatow saddles our (un)happy couple with modern-day economic crises, dysfunctional parents and run-of-the-mill sexual inadequacies that thwart the 40-year-olds in their efforts to reinvent their marriage.

Apatow clearly has marriage in his candid crosshairs and as per usual, never proposes an easy fix. The obstacles warrant sympathy for both characters but the film doesn’t pull punches by avoiding situations without blame. Oppositely, the humour is placed accordingly but sometimes misses its mark when Apatow wanders into tasteless or overly-juvenile territory, which will tend to happen when one walks the comedic tightrope that Judd Apatow lives on. However these traits are balanced by the perfect chemistry between Mann and Rudd, not to mention Mann and Apatow’s real-life children who, apart from seemingly being spoon-fed comedy, glisten as the duo’s wearisome offspring.

Regrettably there are no appearances from Seth Rogen or Katherine Heigl, made even worse by Knocked Up alumni Jason Segel and Charlyne Yi who are notably unremarkable. Fortunately the fresh blood introduced in the forms of Megan Fox, Chris O’ Dowd and Albert Brooks are ideal and Melissa McCarthy makes a riotous cameo that comes off like rage-fuelled Bridesmaids.

Sure, the running time (as usual) drags on a bit and the humour behind Judd Apatow’s Lost obsession has ironically gone missing but This Is 40 carries the hefty appeal of a teen rom-com fast-forwarded 25 years, which is rare enough to remain thoroughly engaging.

★★★☆☆

Watch the trailer here