Sore Winners

Trainwreck, the inexplicably overlong, but nevertheless more than sporadically funny, has just been reviewed.
Reported on 9th of February, 2016

I once wrote a script called Santa’s Football Wedding. It was great, and universally hated. This may be because nothing can be as good as the title. I accept that, because I wrote the title as well.


19 November 2015 @ The Gaumont Rennes

$4.00 or, if one must be quotidian, and one must... 
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆


Trainwreck, the inexplicably overlong, but nevertheless more than sporadically funny, has just been reviewed. That’s all I have to say on the film. Instead, let’s talk about the tiny detail that completely spoiled it for me. Besides the ideas that including celebrities doing ordinary things counts as a joke.

Okay. Now I’m done.

Actually reading the notes again, I’m sad how much that detail in question ruined the film. There are a lot of first class bits at the beginning, not least is Ms. Schumer’s rendition of ‘Please don’t be a dorm room, please don’t be a dorm room’. Ms. Tilda Swinton is awfully good and literally (I’m literally using the word ‘literally’ correctly in this instance, even as this sentence uses it incorrectly) unrecognizable. Mr. John Cena and Ms. Schumer engage in a sex scene that I’m positive I’m never seen before, and I watch an ordinary amount of porn.

We will (have) return(ed) to Mr. Cena’s excellent and utterly committed repressed homo-eroticism in Ridiculous 6 3: The Hateful 8 (no, it would not be Ridiculous 6 2: The Hateful 8, smart math person. It goes in order from the original. Ridiculous 6 2 would, in fact, be Ridiculous 6 2: The Staid 7, the Empire like follow-up. That’s why The Hateful 8 was so disappointing. They never get the third in the trilogy right),

but, if that last parenthetical is any indication, this has gone way beyond the intended one sentence review. If that’s the case, however, it unfortunately follows that the one detail that spoils the film may be as big as a portion, a whatnot, or even a chunk. This can happen when you take a light-hearted sex comedy and stretch it out to two hours. Or a single sentence into 1000 words. I’m making my own point. With me! No one appreciates my sacrifice!

So let’s get to the grand theory of the week, the not so original idea that all comedies have a transgressive/repressive quality in their characters or situation. The Dude does nothing and is proud of it, Bad Santa is awesome, Ms. Barbara Stanwyck talks really really fast and so on. Crazy Amy (French re-titlage, in English, and I can’t stop calling it that) drinks, sleeps around and is a woman. Gilda, which may be my favorite film, has two characters so much in hate/love with each other that they destroy each other’s (and their own) lives.

Marriage! Babies! Sobriety! Sports! Look, you guys won. You don't get to judge us; we get to judge you. For winning! 

It’s a comedy. Everything I like is a comedy in some way. And like all comedies, there is the tragic end where the out-of-bounds characters come back into off-sides and get penalty heads or whatever. Characters must be made into form again.

Gilda is the best example of this format because it’s the most absurd. It works (for me), because the ending is shamelessly tacked on. After indulging in a cycle of heightened ultra-Freudian and totally unforgivable pansexual revenge (both characters), the characters simply say: ‘Let’s not do this anymore’ about 2.4 seconds before the iris fade. Like a studio version of Ensayo de un Crimen, there’s the sense that the ending is so tacked-on that we can just go ahead and disregard it. This is probably why TV works better than film. Even though there’s a sense that GOB loves his family by the end, the knowing it ain’t gonna last is the point.

I downloaded the film on iTunes two months before its French release, watched the first five minutes (see Take, below), and immediately shut it off and waited to see it in the theater. I regret...they couldn't make it better.

I downloaded the film on iTunes two months before its French release, watched the first five minutes (see Take, below), and immediately shut it off and waited to see it in the theater. I regret…they couldn’t make it better.

Watching comedy, we enjoy characters doing the evil stuff we fantasize about. Yeah, we need have them be saved so we don’t have to think about the fact that country, family, love and work is a colossal con, but math proves me right. If we don’t enjoy these characters, why do their shenanigans take up the first 99% of the film and not the other way around?

Trainwreck doesn’t invert this, but it does go about 50/50, where not being bad is the better part of the last hour or so. It doesn’t help that it lacks the kind of sly, well I’ll probably go back to my shit ways wink that the good films retain.

And though dull certainly, this isn’t actually what irked me. The clunker: ‘I’m broken. You’re not’, says it all to me. Besides being so on the nose to be a wart, it is said in the following context: Amy, the bad sister, has been judging the good sister, who has babies and a family. Sister is upset because Ms. Schumer be the one person in the entirety of society that might think something bad about being conventional. How dare she? I mean, it’s as if there’s an audience who would pay to see her do it.

But I’ve had it with you guys, and now we’re back to Santa’s Football Wedding, which this film could actually top with the new French re-title: Marriage! Babies! Sobriety! Sports! You guys won. You don’t get to judge us; we get to judge you. For winning!

Thing of it is, there’s an unfortunate break with the format here, in that romcoms follow the formula where each character must learn something from the other. Her and Enough Said pulled off having one flawed character because there was something to say about the flaws. Saying that MBSS will save you, for one full fucking hour, is not the insight one might want it to be, and winds up making a fun, and potentially subversive, character rather sad.

The forced impetus of MBSS is clearly a bugaboo of mine. How it relates back is the ultimate crime in film: not being funny. I know that we have to get to the hugs in the end, but this isn’t even very huggy. It’s just kind of mean and angry, as we wait, oh do we wait, for Ms. Schumer to be healed, praise be mumsnet and celebrities.

The film falters, and this faltering spoils what preceded, because it wanted so much to erase all her character’s qualities, instead of just some of them. The resolution ending can be accomplished without total loss – I think Bad Santa (hey, another film I was right about and no one else was) would qualify as a movie that pulled this off. The jokes are way better, sure, but Mr. Bob Thorton’s transformation is not only small, but he keeps many bad qualities, and even uses some of them to good effect. Is it worse to say this is what happens when you remove ‘BS’, or when you remove ‘MS’?

That’s why I keep my endings short.

The Take

Ms. Tilda Swinton. Seriously, I only guessed who she was after they introduced Mr. Ezra Miller. Who you should know who that is!
Mr. John Cena. I wasn’t kidding. Best non-vocal performance of the year.
There are a lot of great jokes. Mr. Colin Quinn explaining unintended three-ways as playing with dolls to nine and six-year-old girls is possibly the opening of the year.
Total Profits
The last hour is brutal. It leaves one with a bad taste in the mouth, a phrase Mr. Cena could have used to his advantage at the beginning.
Total Losses


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