Not a Trainwreck, more like a fender bender

Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck character breaks a slew of journalism rules as one of the lead writers of a satirically portrayed New York woman’s magazine. Dating the subject of her story is a breach of ethics. Sleeping with her story is frowned upon more so. Slightly, anyway.

Much can be made of Schumer in Trainwreck. She’s a delight, and the script is her own too. Trainwreck appears born of late night rom com binges, certainly against Schumer’s usual disparate form. While she slings a handful of progressively-slanted barbs at sexism cliches and social judgment, Trainwreck drives on the rom com rails – meet cute, break-up, a run to save the relationship.

Schumer’s candid nature is embedded into the film. It should be; it’s what Schumer is here for. Her socialized rhetoric and role reversal are grand. Yet, she’s caught in formula with the awkward friend, mouthy boss, and the guys who speak only about relationships. In this case, those guys happen to be LeBron James and otherwise convincing Bill Hader.

It’s often entertaining. Sports celebrities jabbing their own successes is a fun watch. A cheap, check-splitting LeBron and protein-soaked John Cena are overpowering. Cena is especially gold as he berates a theater patron.

Judd Apatow directs, and as with so many of his films, can’t decide what should be cut.

Separated and on their own, the scenes glow. It’s evident by the sheer hilarity boxed up into the bonus features. As a film, as something trying to tie into a narrative, Schumer’s starring role is suffocated by cruft. Judd Apatow directs, and as with so many of his films, can’t decide what should be cut. Scenes drone on; Trainwreck is terrified of leaving a joke behind and story progression can be outright murdered.

Trainwreck leaves enormous gaps, long enough for character motivations to wander. A funeral is overextended enough as to forget who died. Worse, this is merely a set-up for Schumer’s character (named Amy) to exit into her predictable downward spiral. Stranger still, as much as Trainwreck is trying to level men and women – via Amy’s accepted promiscuity and drinking – she dumps the booze and turns monogamous. Flipping her character produces an arc, then shatters what the movie set out to do. So much for rewriting social judgment.

What’s left of Trainwreck is a movie of pieces. That piece was funny. That piece wasn’t. Maybe that piece was hilarious. Whatever Trainwreck is doing, it’s often ignoring the New York-driven saga surrounding the integral story veins. Schumer’s crude comedic bite captures some of her dissonant form, while the rest succumbs to cliché. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Movie]

LeBron and Hader are a great pair @ 48:32

Apatow and cinematographer Jody Lee Lipes shoot Trainwreck on film, giving Universal’s encode a challenge. Opening scenes are dithered to capture a late ’70s/early ’80s look before grain resides into a more natural state. Even then, it’s thicker than many modern 35mm films. Encoding resolves the print cleanly.

Fidelity is thus high, rendering sharp exteriors and focused close-ups. Facial definition is notable. Resolution is substantial. New York is given a glamorous, clean presentation. Location shoots at street level capture the city well, with establishing aerials showcasing the slew of skyscrapers.

Post-production adds zip to the color, warming flesh tones and pulling primaries. Saturation is borderline too heavy. Schumer’s red dress near the beginning of the film almost bleeds off the ferry she’s taking. Things settle into a pleasing mixture of contrast and peppy hues, carrying the imagery.

What’s lost are black levels. Most slip into a dark gray. During a nighttime break-up, the scene is lacking needed density to a point of distraction. A majority of darker shots suffer the same fate. It’s not a killer, but no less of a loss. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Video]

DTS-HD authoring gives life to Trainwreck via ambiance. New York is extended into the stereos and surrounds when Schumer is out and about. It feels crowded thanks to the design. Clubs or parties are represented well, propped up by strong placement in the rears and a spread of idle dialog. A stadium interior has suitable pep too.

LFE support will only be found in the soundtrack, at one point raucous, another indifferent during a slam dunk show. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Audio]

Apatow-directed films are never a letdown, like in this case where there are enough deleted/extended scenes to fill a second take of the movie, well over 90-minutes worth combined. A two-part line-o-rama runs eight minutes, with the second half dedicated to John Cena’s priceless role. That’s a winner. Cena continues into the gag reel which lasts 12 minutes.

Those seeking something in-depth have a slew of behind-the-scenes featurettes, 11 of them and again approaching 90 minutes in total. These are superb. They trounce separate bonuses like Directing Athletes, a 10-minute peek into how Apatow handled all of the sports superstars. Method Man has a funny conversation about Wu Tang Clan with the 100-year old Norman Lloyd in a short little clip. Movie-within-a-movie The Dogwalker is separated, starring Daniel Radcliffe and Marisa Tomei. That short is four minutes.

Still not done, there are clips and excerpts from the Trainwreck Comedy Tour, all seven of them coming in at varying lengths. A commentary with Apatow, Schumer, and production assistant Kim Caramale is included, and as a finale, a four-minute longer unrated version is an option. [xrr rating=5/5 label=Extras]


Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.

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