On the face of it, Judd Appatow’s (The 40 Year Old Virgin) newest comedy offering is admirable. Diverting from the usual expectations of the rom-com genre and trying to bring in relationship dynamics more relatable to a female audience of the 00s, it challenges the stereotypes usually presented of a single woman. Not husbandless and babyless because she needs a makeover or is too career focused, Trainwreck’s leading lady has simple chosen a different way of life.
Or at least, that’s how it starts. Unfortunately, that message is lost about half way through the film, and by its end the original intent feels limp as it explodes in a super cheesy, over the top happy ending song and dance.
Amy (Amy Schumer, Inside Amy Schumer) is a single New York journalist who sees her hedonistic life of booze and sex as embracing freedom. Discouraged by her father from trusting people’s capacity for commitment, she has resigned herself to enjoying things while they last and getting out before things get messy. That is, until she is assigned an interview with top sports surgeon Aaron (Bill Hader, The Skeleton Twins). His straight forward, no games approach (along with advice from his best friend, Le Bron James) disarms Amy’s usual defences and they enter the realms of a real relationship – opening both of them up to unexplored territories and learning curves.
If you’re a fan of Amy Schumer’s stand up and are expecting that same level of laugh out loud, racy comedy you may be disappointed. She is still very much the saving grace of the film, but it’s surprising that in a script she has actually written, it feel like she’s somewhat watered down. There are a few well delivered golden moments, but this is no roaring joke fest. In fact the film packs in a lot of drama, trying to showcase Amy’s abilities as an actress beyond the comedy world.
It has to be said early on that Tilda Swinton (Adaption) as the magazine’s cringe-worthingly blunt editor is an unexpected delight (you won’t even recognise her!). Also holding up the supporting cast are basketball star Le Bron James and WWE’s John Cena – both providing some entertaining comedy interludes.
Brie Larson (Short Term 12) plays Amy’s loving & settled sister – the one character without much of a sense of comedy in a sea of jokers. Unfortunately for anyone who has enjoyed her recent films and was excited to see her bring out some comedy chops, this seems like a bit of a lost opportunity (not to mention the blink and you’ll miss it bit part for Daniel Radcliffe – as just a couple of blips on Amy’s tv screen).
The film’s problem is that it’s trying to juggle too many tones & genres, to the point where they all come off a bit under par. Blending genres, when badly handled, can often lead to a sense that a film doesn’t know quite what it wants to be – which is what has happened here. The comedy suffers from over-saturation of drama. The drama suffers from the incongruous styles of comedy.
Not only that, but by seemingly losing track of the film’s aim and slipping into the very same conventions it was trying to depart from, it loses its integrity. You can’t help but roll your eyes as despite starting out in a hugely different way, the film inevitably still concludes in the same hollywoodised fashion as most chick flicks do.
Although Apatow boasts quite the successful portfolio of films, his latest (in much the same way as 2012’s ‘This is 40’) leaves you feeling frustrated that it didn’t quite hit the mark and could have been a lot better. By all means, go and see the film for a bit of a chuckle on a dull day and you may well enjoy it – but it won’t be standing out as one of the best comedies of the year.
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