Trainwreck Blu-ray Review: Apatow Wrecks the Comedy

Schumer gets some laughs, but Apatow seems determined to be a drama director.
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Judd Apatow’s latest directorial effort has its problems, but first-time leading lady Amy Schumer isn’t one of them. Working from Schumer’s script, Apatow largely reins in the outspoken star, turning what should have been an outrageous raunchfest into a melancholy rumination on coming to turns with adulthood.

The film’s somber tone continues the path of Apatow’s most recent feature film directorial efforts, This is 40 and Funny People, and even to some extent Knocked Up, reaching all the way back to 2007. In all of these cases and again in Trainwreck, the focus is on growing up and accepting adult responsibilities rather than reveling in debauchery. The focus is also entirely too unfocused, with all of these films failing the golden rule of the 90-minute comedy with their bloated 2+ hour lengths. It’s as if Apatow is determined to play bait and switch with the audience, stuffing his films with comedy giants and then making them perform weepy dramatic roles. I really didn’t need to see Schumer cry in this film to make it worthwhile.

Schumer plays a magazine writer assigned to deliver a feature article about a prominent sports doctor to the stars (Bill Hader). She’s a commitment-averse party girl, while Hader’s character is a nerdy, focused professional. She’s also dealing with family trouble due to the decline of her aging father (Colin Quinn), a worthless dramatic subplot that could and should have been completely excised.

Schumer gets her play at comedy gold and delivers early on, but shockingly, the biggest laughs are generated by the men who only briefly enter her orbit, non-comedians John Cena, Ezra Miller, and LeBron James. Meanwhile, Schumer and co-star Bill Hader are saddled with proving their dramatic chops as they slog through the grind of building a stable romantic relationship. It’s a shame to see the rubber-faced Hader wasted as the generic straight man to Schumer’s party girl, although to his credit he makes for a credible dramatic lead.

The Blu-ray is stuffed with exclusive bonus features, mostly of the generic deleted scene/gag reel variety but headlined by the Trainwreck Comedy Tour, a behind-the-scenes look at a week-long series of live standup appearances around North America by the comedians of the cast including Apatow. There’s not much onstage footage from the various promotional/charity events, but it’s a treat to see the camaraderie between the standup vets as they share in the grind of the travel and nightly performances.

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