review   |   weekend

“Trainwreck” is a bad title for a good comedy



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Bill Hader and Amy Schumer in "Trainwreck." (Universal Pictures) Universal Pictures / Handout Buy Photos

I have never been a regular watcher of “Inside Amy Schumer,” but I am going to be now. “Trainwreck” stars Schumer, who also wrote the screenplay. The movie is a lot like its protagonist: funny and flawed.

“Trainwreck” is about a magazine writer named Amy Townsend, whose curmudgeon father taught her “monogamy isn’t realistic.”

She sleeps with many men, despite the presence of a somewhat regular boyfriend named Steven. But a new relationship with a sports doctor named Aaron eventually changes her perspective on love and life.

Schumer gives a great performance in this film. She’s hilarious and has some of the funniest observations of any character in a film this year. She also nails some great dramatic moments, as in a eulogy she gives at a beloved family member’s funeral.

Bill Hader has always been one of my favorite “Saturday Night Live” cast members, and he does good work as Townsend’s boyfriend Aaron. His chemistry with Schumer makes their relationship sweet and endearing. His scenes with his best friend Lebron James, who plays himself, are some of the film’s comic highlights.

The scene in which Aaron and James get lunch is indicative of the film’s approach toward scene length. After they get all of the information that advances the plot out of the way, they simply talk and make great jokes that flow from their characters.

Judd Apatow, the director of “Trainwreck,” has been criticized for making films too long. An average director might have cut 5 minutes out of the lunch scene, but it would have been flatter and less entertaining. I have not seen many of his films, but I find Apatow’s patience for letting a scene flow and find itself to be engaging rather than irritating.

The supporting cast is wonderful. Colin Quinn and Mike Birbiglia’s performances as Townsend’s father and brother-in-law, respectively, make me wish they were in more movies. Nikki Glaser does not get a lot of screen time, but her joke about her concern over letting her kids watch “Glee” will stay with me for a long time.

“Trainwreck” is too reliant on the tropes of the romantic comedy genre, however. This dependence detracts from its great characters and makes the film feel staged. Some of Hader’s dialogue, such as why he likes sports and cheerleaders, feel stilted and exist only for the final sequence to have more meaning.

“Trainwreck” is a good way to spend 125 minutes. Schumer once joked she is “sluttier than the average bear.” Even with its limitations, the film is funnier than the average romantic comedy.

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