Rated R for everything dirty. There's some pretty graphic nudity in it. There's on screen sex. The language is not only foul, but it is vulgar and graphic. There's some racism and sexism in it. It's got everything a good Judd Apatow movie should have. If you've seen Judd Apatow films, you know what you are getting into. If you haven't, here's your warning. R.
DIRECTOR: Judd Apatow
Man, I knew that I liked this movie. I forgot how good it really was. I don't know what it is about me and rom-coms. I think I don't like the comedy in a lot of rom-coms. I don't want to be a guy who hangs on vulgarity for a movie to be funny, but I tend to lean towards the romantic comedies of Judd Apatow. Is his audience male? That's pretty close-minded of me, but there is something very different about his rom-coms versus almost any other rom-coms I see. Maybe it is just that romantic comedies pretend to be really wholesome. I don't even know if that's really true. I've watched a lot of rom-coms that have been absolutely filthy. But that filth normally doesn't act like a punchline. Rather, we often laugh because the stuff is so shocking. But the Judd Apatow movies tend to get really filthy, but contain actual great jokes.
I think that people must have a thing against Amy Schumer. Yeah, she's crass. But I get it. She's really funny and I don't think that it's wrong to be a woman and crass. I never watched her show, but it wasn't because of her. It was honestly because I already watch too much TV. I don't know if you got that. It's not like I watch a movie a day or anything. (*sigh* What a life!) Schumer is the creative brain behind this. While I give Apatow a lot of props to this because it is impeccably directed, Schumer wrote the script. She starred in the role. It is her vehicle. While I would love to write off Apatow movies for guys, she writes it from the female perspective. I mean, that's not wholly a unique thing. Many of the rom-coms I have seen and dismissed have come from a female perspective. But I think giving the protagonist traditionally male issues makes the story far more issues. The movie, starting off with Colin Quinn teaching his daughters about the evils of monogamy, instantly establishes that sexual hangups are not a thing of the male world. While I would believe that Amy Schumer herself is a feminist, the film kind of acts as a commentary on the fact that there might be no gender norms out there. Shock value is shock value and it applies to all. I've gotten over shock value as an actual value, but Trainwreck does a lot to keep me thinking. Her job at the magazine is such a wonderful addition to the whole movie. The idea that journalism is not something to necessarily educate, but to shock. It kind of exposes the actual intellectualism behind dumb and shocking titles. Schumer and Apatow made something here that is entertaining, yes. But there's so much satire in this film that I can't help but love it.
I just read / skimmed (I have so little time to write this!) a piece about how Trainwreck is kind of a toxic movie. The reasoning behind this is along the lines that it gender-bends expectations, making men women and thus being right. I can see that being a problem with Apatow's films. The only way I can respond is by giving an argument that will make me sound like a meninist. (I loathe meninists. I know this sounds like I'm protesting too much, but it should be addressed.) I like the way that argument sounds, but it also has a problem with it. Aaron Conners, played by Bill Hader, is remarkably with it. I am actually floored that he hasn't been the handsome male lead in lots of things since this. My knee-jerk reaction is "Not all guys!", but I also know that is so wrong to say. The alternative to doing this is a return to the status quo to a certain extent. Traditional rom-coms that are female driven often give the female protagonist an innocuous quirk. She works too much. She has a hard time trusting. It makes them too heroic. We sympathize with the protagonist because they are fundamentally a good person and their internal conflict is standing in the way of achieving her goal. But in an era where morally dubious characters make far more interesting protagonists / anti-heroes, why does this option always have to be male? I love watching Walter White, Vic Mackey, and John Cusack from High Fidelity in movies. These guys have problems. But the second that we start getting the slightly unsympathetic female, it says that it is gender-bending. I might have to disagree with that. Mind you, if I'm confronted directly, I'll totally backpedal. I'm enjoying the luxury of the patriarchy right now and am exercising a crazy amount of privilege. But I think that the traditional female driven rom-com is regressive. We keep getting these characters that are ultimately forgettable. Most of the stories involving female protagonists have the side characters provide the bulk of the memorable moments. Honestly, I don't remember one thing that Katherine Heigl did in 27 Dresses. But when we have a character like Amy, there are tons of lines and moments that really stick out. Why can't a woman try to define her own sexuality? Why can't she be afraid of commitment? Making women one thing seems like it is such a step back. If I had to play devil's advocate, there might be things that make Amy a bit of a male archetype. But I don't think that is absolute. All of the men in the movie aren't good guys. They aren't all gender bent. Yeah, many of them are sensitive. John Cena's character, while gay, wants to have a real relationship. We're mainly pointing to Aaron Conners and LeBron James as gender-bent. But Aaron Conners isn't so much gender bent as much as he has his life together. He has his priorities in line and really hasn't had the opportunity for a relationship. Why does that make him feminine? Yeah, traditionally in film, women have their acts together and that's what has stopped them from pursing relationships previous to that point in the film. But that's not something that falls under stereotypes or archetypes.
Trainwreck also has a really odd message about loving the unlovable. Colin Quinn's character of Amy's father is pretty unlikable. He's racist and sexist. He left Amy's mother simply so he could sleep around. There's nothing really redeemable about his character. But the movie stresses that Amy really loves him. That's one thing that we probably don't talk about very often. The elderly are often shown as wise and woke. But I'm trying to think of many members of my extended family. They're racists. I often find myself embarrassed by things that are said. But I love them. I like being around them. Do I wish that they were better? Absolutely. Amy even says this to everyone. Everyone in that tent was offended by Gordon, but they all loved him. It's a little bit of a fine line. There's an uncomfortable message of allowing the elderly to get away with nonsense. But it also is a message to treat people with love and compassion. Both Amy and her sister, oddly played by Brie Larson (not like she plays it odd...I just forgot that she was in this movie) rip Gordon apart when he takes things too far. But I never got the vibe that they hated him. They just expected more out of him. On top of that, Amy takes that lesson about learning to unhate as the central idea of the story. Like me, she kind of hates everyone. (I don't hate everyone. I just roll my eyes more than I should.) Her way to bring back Aaron is to do something that she considered vapid and offensive. I do want to stress that it is different than the Grease ending. The Grease ending drives me nuts. It's the worst. Sandy sells her soul to becoming everything that Danny wants. She abandons her personality and becomes something against her individuality. Amy does something parallel, but in such a healthier way. She never BECOMES the cheerleader. But she is also purging her toxic attitudes towards the other. She does something that takes effort and a positive attitude. That moment is a reconciliation that we should sometimes do things for others, even if it is outside of our comfort zone. Also, it is also a great way to say that "I was wrong." It's such a fun moment.
I love that Trainwreck also deals with relationships in a real way. The movie has the moment where the two look like they are breaking up. I think Hollywood has always relegated the one fight as the moment of tension for the characters. But Connors actually vocalizes "What are you talking about? We're just having a fight." People have fights. Relationships aren't perfect. I mean, my relationship is absolutely flawless. But people fight and it actually brings people together. I'm not saying that fighting can't get toxic, but the notion of the prefect relationship is absolutely silly. I think that is the point of the rom-com. They normally are about grandiose gestures and unrealistic expectations being placed on both parts of the relationships. Trainwreck doesn't really allow for easy answers. The way that time moves in this movie is reinforces that idea. I think that the relationship lasts for almost a year by the end of the film and there are so many slow-burning character choices. Yeah, it seems like Amy is making these giant leaps in character. But watching it a second time, she is taking these absolutely crucial baby steps towards becoming a better person and believing in actual self-care. I don't know why Apatow and company are always obsessed with pot and drinking. Pot and drinking always look super fun, but these stories always end with these vices being toxic. I don't believe that Apatow and Schumer are anti-drugs. Maybe that's something that structurally needs to happen. Also, I think they recognize that addiction is a very real thing. But the story works for the most part. People aren't perfect. While Trainwreck isn't anywhere near reality, it feels somehow more real than most rom-coms I've seen. I love this movie. I think it's great. And it is loaded with sportsy folks too! That's pretty impressive.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.