Blu-ray Review: Trainwreck

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A big hit with the critics and moviegoers, Trainwreck serves as the mainstream rom-com introduction of comedian Amy Schumer to audiences who may not have caught her stand-up act. In addition to starring, Schumer wrote the screenplay so it's somewhat forgivable that the narrative relies heavily on standard-issue genre conventions. At just over two hours, the Judd Apatow-comedy is overly indulgent, but it's often laugh-out-loud funny. In fact, the supporting players often steal the show from Schumer and co-star Bill Hader, including surprisingly deft turns by John Cena and LeBron James. The intended emotional impact of the film's more mawkish elements doesn't quite land with full force, but Trainwreck is more consistently funny than the average comedy.

Amy Townsend (Schumer) is a struggling magazine journalist who's constant sleeping around barely masks a dissatisfaction with her lack of a steady relationship. Enter Dr. Aaron Conners (Hader), a sports medicine specialist who will be the focus of her latest writing assignment. Despite his easy access to beautiful NBA cheerleaders and the like, Aaron is seeking something deeper than flings and one-night-stands. He's considerably more straight-laced than Amy, leading to a typical 'opposites attract' situation. Therein lies the greatest flaw in Trainwreck: we don't learn enough about Aaron to understand why he's so into Amy. She doesn't seem his type, but that's not such a big deal. The problem is that we don't get any insight into how she wins him over. And we don't get any idea what really makes Aaron tick. 

trainwreck 1 (380x253).jpg Reading too much into a rom-com? Not really, considering Schumer is casting for fairly big fish. We see her sibling rivalry with younger sister Kim (Brie Larson), who's already married with a stepchild and pregnant for the first time. They have a complex relationship with their ailing father (Colin Quinn). Whenever Trainwreck tries tugging at the heartstrings, it feels strangely neutral—impassioned, even. It's almost as if Schumer's primary goal was to infuse her film with a strain of comic anarchy, but kept getting told along the way that she needed to include some warm 'n gushy stuff. The funny stuff comes from the aforementioned Cena, as Amy's unexpectedly sensitive boyfriend Steven, and LeBron James as "himself," a client of Aaron's (and also one of his best friends, ever-concerned about the doctor's personal happiness and welfare).

A bit of spoilerish territory follows, especially for anyone completely unfamiliar with rom-com formula, so consider yourself duly warned if you don't want to hear anything about the film's climax. Basically, after splitting up due to apparently irreconcilable differences (more or less), Amy decides she needs to stage a big event to win Aaron back. So she breaks out an awkward cheerleading routine, participating in a private show with the Knicks squad. Aaron is pleasantly surprised by Amy's willingness to potentially humiliate herself by throwing caution to the wind to please him. 
trainwreck 3 (380x212).jpg The scene is a follow-up to Amy's casually dismissive attitude towards the profession of cheerleading. The weird thing about the scene, which sums up the inexplicable emotional shallowness that runs throughout Trainwreck, is how phony it feels. Aaron wasn't looking for someone who could rhythmically jump around with pom-poms. He liked Amy the just the way she was. Her temporary membership in the Knicks cheer squad serves no logical dramatic purpose, ending the film on a "big moment" that feels flown in from some other movie.

Universal's tech specs are excellent on the Blu-ray edition of Trainwreck, with a terrific 1080p transfer of Jody Lee Lipes' straightforward cinematography. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix is fully representative of what audiences have come to expect from a mid-budget, dialogue-driven, character-based comedy. In other words, the music and effects are supportive of the main attraction: the dialogue, which is front and center and mixed appropriately.

The Blu-ray contains both the R-rated theatrical cut and the five-minute-longer "unrated cut."

Where Universal has pulled out the stops is in terms of supplemental features, which are bountiful. A series of substantive 'making of' featurettes adds up to a grand total somewhere around 90 minutes. There are tons of deleted and extended scenes (17 of the former, 12 of the latter) plus a two-part gag reel (which is actually funny, lo and behold, unlike most gag reels) and a "Line-o-Rama" montage of various improvised line readings. The movie-within-a-movie, The Dogwalker (boasting cameos by Marisa Tomei and Daniel Radcliffe), is offered as a four-minute short (in two parts). There's another featurette series (totaling more than 20 minutes), "The Trainwreck Comedy Tour," plus an audio-only feature containing a promotional SiriusXM broadcast from their Comedy Central Radio channel. All in all, there's a lot for fans to explore here and Universal has really given them lots of bang for the buck.

Amy Schumer acquits herself quite admirably in her debut as a leading lady. Trainwreck is an ambitious project, a consistently funny film (if never uproariously so), and a sign that Schumer is definitely someone to keep a close eye on as her career progresses.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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