Trainwreck


It’s amazing how Trainwreck (2015) and When Harry Met Sally manage to do the same thing through very different approaches.

Trainwreck is a romantic comedy written by and starring Amy Schumer and directed by Judd Apatow. We are entering a new age of Schumer, who will undoubtedly write more films in the future. The film follows the life of Amy, who grew up believing her father’s words that “monogamy isn’t realistic” and flails through dating with that mentality.

For me, personally, I judge a rom-com off two main principles: 1) How well I can step into the female character’s shoes and relate to her, and 2) How much I like the male lead and imagine myself with him. In regards to the second point, Trainwreck is a home-run for me. Bill Hader co-stars as Dr. Aaron Connors,  sports doctor about whom Amy writes an article. He is a fantastic romantic leading man. He’s got it all: looks, charisma, humor, and a realness about him that really draws you in. He’s sweet and caring, always there for Amy. He’s skyrocketed to one of my favorite romantic comedy leading man, because he’s such a sweet guy who genuinely cares for his partner — who also likes spooning.

There’s a little friction with the first point. In case you missed it, Amy is the titular train wreck. She’s got some issues, explained right off the bat from her father explaining his divorce to his daughters. Somehow her sister Kim (Brie Larson) escaped childhood without any long-term social damage, but Amy is a different story. I can absolutely relate to how an experience growing up can have repercussions in adulthood and with dating/relationships. I also admire her confidence and humor. I’m, thankfully, just not a train wreck like her, so it’s hard to put myself in her shoes in the rom-com, especially when Aaron is being so good to her. But the whole point is that Amy is flailing through life, while having fun and starting a career, and now that she’s met someone worthwhile to her, she can finally address all those issues she’s let be to finally feel grounded. I know it’s a strange thing to say from a raunchy romantic-comedy, but I absolutely feel inspired to address my own issues — but then I might miss my chance to dance with the Knicks cheerleaders for a man.

Schumer writes a hilarious, semi-autobiographical film, filled with laughs and gasps. In many ways, I see this as a ramped up version of How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, as the heroine of the story pushes away the guy she loves, and manages to win him back partly through leaving a trashy magazine and applying her talents to a more prestigious publication. Schumer’s writing and performance are stellar. Her humor is not for everyone, but her story is multi-dimensional. The speech she wrote for her father’s funeral is gritty and unexpected, a transformation of what it means to be brutally honest. Then in the ending of the film, which, for a rom-com, is the sentimental and tear-inducing part of the film, she alternates layers of huge laughs and tears one right after the other, to delay that inevitable ending. Haider and Larson both give flawless performances, along with the true shapeshifter of our time, Tilda Swinton, playing Amy’s boss Dianna. (We need to talk about this second collaboration between Swinton and Ezra Miller since We Need to Talk About Kevin). The two movie theaters in Chicago that I’ve gone to this weekend have both had sold-out screenings of Trainwreck, so it appears to be doing very well. It’s a raunchy and hilarious take on the romantic comedy, and a first step in the limelight of many by comedy goddess Amy Schumer.

Something Borrowed


Something Borrowed (2011) is a romantic-comedy adaptation of the novel of the same name by Emily Griffin. Directed by Luke Greenfield, this movie tells the story of Rachel (Ginnifer Goodwin), a single and introverted lawyer, who finds herself caught up in a love triangle with Dex (Colin Eggelsfield), her friend from law school, and her best friend, Darcy (Kate Hudson).

The book is widely popular, an international bestseller, but the movie was a flop. What happened?

Well, the casting is its biggest weakness. Hudson is, as always, stunning and impeccably resonant with her characters. She plays Darcy, the toxic best friend to the too sweet Rachel. She’s sexy and sociable, the life of the party. Usually the protagonist, we see a little more acid in Hudson’s performance in Something Borrowed, as she constantly makes situations all about her — like when she toasts her best friend on her 30th birthday but really only talks about her upcoming wedding. As far as casting goes, she’s the ace in the hole; she steals the show as she always does with her big personality and talent. Goodwin is a beautiful woman, with a sweet smile, but Goodwin doesn’t really gel with Rachel. Rachel is a shy, introverted woman who does not really go for anything. She worked hard in law school, sure, but in her life outside academics and work, she’s a shadow in the corner. She fell in love with Dex in law school and they had undeniable chemistry, but she just let him go. Her best friend is toxic, always stealing the spotlight, and she just lets her do it. Goodwin doesn’t delve into that kind of self-conscious headspace for this role. If anything, she’s more empty-headed than she is struggling with her outgoing setbacks. A girl like Rachel has a lot going on in her mind, even if she doesn’t speak those thoughts, and many times it seemed like Goodwin’s Rachel was completely vacuous underneath her facial expressions. Hers, however, was not the weak link in the casting chain.

Eggelsfield is cast as the “perfect man”, the sweet and sensitive lawyer who you hope won’t wait too late to realize that Rachel is the one for him (since readers identify themselves with the ordinary Rachel). It’s always tough to rise up to the role of “perfect man”, and Eggelsfield unfortunately falls quite far. Phsyically, he’s an incredibly attractive man, who definitely looks the part of a suave and charming lawyer. That is as far as his embodiment of the character goes, though. As said with some friends over brunch, Eggelsfield is a beautiful shell, magnifying the problems already outlined with Goodwin’s performance. His is a character who is in love with Rachel, the sweet and caring friend of his past, who is also somewhat in love with Darcy, the exciting yet harmful woman he’s engaged with, who is the son of a sick mother who is basically staying alive just to see him married, and also the son of the father who seemingly would rather die than face any scandal in his upscale family. There are a lot of emotions going on with Dex, ranging from personal desires, past regrets, future anxieties, but none of that shows up in his face or acting. His acting and charisma are pretty much sitting in the middle of the emotional spectrum, blissfully unaware in the neutral mundanity of human emotion. This problem is exacerbated by John Krasinski’s performance of Rachel’s best friend, Ethan. Krasinski is nothing if not charming, and Ethan exudes charm. He’s the sharp-minded and ever-caring best friend who (unlike in the book) confesses his feelings for Rachel. How is an audience supposed to understand or relate to Rachel who stoically dismisses his feelings for the dispassionate Dex? In this case, the casting of Krasinski was negative because he was too charming and overshadowed the “perfect man”.

The main cast was supported by poorly written characters, Marcus and Claire, Steve Howey and Ashley Williams respectively. Their characters are extremely unappealing characters who irritate more than positively enhance. Besides the unsuccessful casting, the story is not particularly imaginative or original, leaving a film anticipating a sequel without any future.

Even with all these cons, I still enjoyed the film (mostly thanks to Kate Hudson). It’s a nice film to watch with a bestie during a movie/pizza night, precisely the way I watched it. So in that context, Something Borrowed works quite well!