Month: July 2015

REN REVIEWS: TRAINWRECK

*This review contains spoilers*

Like many other young adults, I saw Trainwreck over the weekend. I will go on the record and say that I’m a big fan of Amy Schumer (and pretty much the whole cast and director to boot) and that this movie made me consistently laugh out loud—or as the kids say, made me LOL (on second thought, are the kids still saying that?). The movie also made me cry. There were unexpected tender moments—and I was taken aback by Schumer’s dramatic, emotional acting chops.

However, I have a few hang-ups. The pacing doesn’t do the film any favors in selling the believability that Schumer’s character, Amy (natch), and Bill Hader’s character, Aaron, had made such a great bond in their courtship that they would go to the lengths they do in the story to be together. For the most part, Amy is truly a trainwreck. It’s not so much that she sleeps around and carouses more than the average person—it’s the way she sleeps around and carouses. In fact, she very much embodies the traditional male role that we typically see in (romantic) comedies. As funny as she can be, and deliver some great one-liners she does, the character can be infuriatingly pouty. Plus, we don’t ever grasp what it is that Amy likes about Aaron, or what Aaron likes about Amy. They have a few chuckles, and a few drinks, and then to his surprise, she takes him to bed on what we can consider their first date of sorts. And apparently for Aaron that is hook, line, and sinker. There are also no real stakes to their relationship. The audience is led to believe that they have great chemistry (and that she’s maybe becoming a better person because of him?) after a montage of them having fun dates traipsing around New York. That’s it. And when the big, climactic fight happens (as they always do), we’re not really rooting for either one of them.

Meanwhile, the film does have promising subplots that deliver great lines and laughs (memorable moments from Brie Larson, Mike Birbiglia, Randall Park, Jon Glaser, Vanessa Bayer, Colin Quinn and Tilda Swinton) but feel lost at times in between the ‘love plot’ with Aaron. That all goes to say that I walked away from the film thinking, “So was that a parody of romantic comedies?” So many elements in the film are classic rom-com clichés: Amy works as a magazine writer (and apparently she’s really good at it yet we hardly ever see her work); Amy lives alone in a Manhattan apartment (in what world?); Aaron is a doctor to star athletes making for awkward cameos by said star athletes; there are ‘falling in love’ montages; Amy feels pressure from younger sister who has already settled down; there’s a climactic fight; there’s a climactic ‘rebound’ scene (this was just weird!); and there’s a climactic performance to win back the guy. I mean, this is basically How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. With the exception of the storyline with Amy’s dad, everything else falls in line with what nearly all rom-coms do. Yet, this movie apparently isn’t aware that it’s a parody in the way that They Came Together is. There’s no nod or wink that they’re in on the joke. And that’s surprising, coming from Judd Apatow—who, at least in his earlier films, brought us subverted variations on the rom-com canon (The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up). I expected to have one or the other—and if you’re not going to do either, then be your own type of rom-com that doesn’t fall into these stereotypes.

And so again, I find myself confused at what this film is trying to say. If you’ve watched Inside Amy Schumer, you might think this is supposed to be an intentional parody. But it’s serious undertones suggest otherwise. We’ll never know what may have gotten left on the cutting room floor, or what kind of studio notes were pushed through, but it does seem that even the filmmakers weren’t sure what to make of the final product. Because instead of ending with concrete dialogue and feelings and wrapping up loose ends, we’re left with a bizarre* cheerleading routine performed by Amy to win back Aaron. Just like the entirety of the movie, it was random and confusing…but gosh darn it, it still made me laugh.

*Plot aside, this was genuinely well executed by Schumer. Brava, girl.

Ren Recommends: Catastrophe

Catastrophe is the modern-day adult rom-com we’ve been waiting for. It’s the breeziest three hours you’ll spend this summer, with only six half-hour episodes streaming on Amazon (originally aired on British television screens at the start of the year). It’s smart, funny, and yes, even sexy. There’s something so refreshing about a story that revolves around a simple plot (man meets woman, man and woman have a lot of sex, man and woman have an unplanned pregnancy, and man moves to London to be with woman) involving two forty-something, charming leads. This man (Rob Delaney) and woman (Sharon Horgan) are completely at ease in their own skin, which makes their budding relationship so compelling. They’re both unapologetically themselves – and luckily for them, for the most part, they like that about the other person. Luckily for us, their chemistry is palpable but doesn’t feel at all forced. Add in their raucous humor, plus some miserable but terrifically executed side characters – not to mention the fabulous Carrie Fisher as Delaney’s mom – and you’ve got one of the best shows to debut this year. And after your three-hour binge goes by in a flash, just like that, you’ll be taken aback by how much you thoroughly enjoyed it, and you’ll curse the TV gods that there aren’t more episodes (yet) to devour.

Ren Reviews: Magic Mike XXL

There’s a movie-going experience, and then there’s a MOVIE-GOING EXPERIENCE. My trip to the local movieplex to see Magic Mike XXL was most certainly the latter. I went on opening night, to a 21+ screening. Need I say more? A theater full of mostly women, and a few brave men, made for one of the most fun and ridiculous MOVIE-GOING EXPERIENCES of my life, hence the ‘all caps.’ I’m usually annoyed by lots of chatter during a movie, but Magic Mike XXL is the perfect movie to scream in anticipation, giggle at grown men gyrating, and throw your hands in the air in a slow-mo “lasso” motion when those iconic first beats of Ginuwine’s “Pony” starts playing. It is also a perfect movie for dropped jaws when you just don’t know how else to react. And all us strangers shared in the magic that was Mike and his crew of male entertainers—a special moment indeed. Ultimately, Magic Mike XXL was the movie we were all hoping Magic Mike was going to be. Now we can move on from that (Goodbye, Alex Pettyfer!), and just go on to enjoy Magic Mike XXL in all its glory.

Here’s my “recap” of the film—the most GIFable movie of all time.

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