Monday, July 20, 2015

Trainwreck: An Unsuccessful Anti-Romcom

Amy, Amy, Amy. I was counting on you to flip everything upside down, poke fun at romcom tropes, reverse the typical commitment-phobia trend, and have a ton of misadventures with weird guys and too much booze. But Trainwreck wasn't quite the fun-fest I thought it was going to be.

Our plot:

Amy is a (wait for it...) trainwreck. Idolizing her dad, she makes a joke of how her life revolves around sleeping around, smoking weed, and drinking too much.


In typical romcom format, the girl gets swept off her feet by a guy. In this case, the guy is a sports surgeon named Aaron (Bill Hader). And then Amy is forced to reevaluate her life choices.

Um...that's kind of it.

The nice thing about Trainwreck is that it tries to stand the familiar trope of romcoms on its head--that being that the girl is completely taken by the guy and then has to make him see that commitment is the only way to live your life. By contrast, Amy is vehemently against being stuck with someone and Aaron (Bill Hader) is adorable in trying to win her over. As a couple, they are refreshingly normal in a lot of ways. Amy isn't overly emotional or being played by some ridiculously hot actress who ends up with somebody as humdrum as Bill Hader. And it's nice to see that whole thing work out for them in the end.

(I'm sorry, Bill Hader, I'm not insinuating anything here but you are 
really unusually ordinary looking for a romantic lead, bless your heart.) 

But for all the hype that they make in the trailers about how she sleeps around and drinks too much and does dumb stuff like that, the movie doesn't spend a ton of time indulging in Amy's behavior. Honestly the movie doesn't really revel in her terrible ways at all. And unlike movies that just roll in that kind of thing like Bad Santa or Bad Teacher (hmm...maybe they should've called this Bad Trainwreck...), Trainwreck seems to have too much heart to fully endorse its own joke. Amy's bad behavior, on the contrary, comes off as childish and inappropriate as opposed to funny. She has this fantastic boyfriend, a renowned surgeon, and while he's off doing responsible surgeon things she's hungover and smoking weed. It's supposed to be funny, but somehow it's kind of not.

Actually, come to think of it, I think the major problem with Trainwreck is that it tries too hard to be a romance when it should be more of a comedy. Whereas in Appataw's other movies you have ensemble casts building relationships and creating identities of their own, there just seem to be a TON of bit parts in Trainwreck. I barely recognized Tilda Swinton, who absolutely murders it as Amy's boss (I mean, duh, she's Tilda Fucking Swinton, why is she even in this movie?), John Cena has a hilarious bit part as her freakin boyfriend in the beginning, and one of the things I enjoyed most about the whole movie were the one-liners by LeBron James. But none of these characters really end up getting fully developed.


Unlike Appataw's Knocked Up or 40-Year-Old Virgin, there isn't any group of friends huddling around Amy. This seems to be a key component missing, as we're left to judge her behavior ourselves without the sounding board of any other people, besides the watery office colleague (Vanessa Bayer), her silent sister (Brie Larson) and her father (Colin Quin). Without the group banter, which makes Knocked Up and The 40-Year-Old Virgin work so well, we're left to view Amy as a black sheep against the personalities of the other women characters who are either super conservative or don't have personalities at all.

Juuuust the twooo of uuuus.

Long story short, Trainwreck has too much heart to be a good comedy and too much raunch to be considered a good romance. Caught in the middle, we're left with some heavy character development that seems too heavy for a night of fun, and a lot of small, funny bits that don't quite string together to form a cohesive plot.

Eh. 6 outa 10. There were some funny parts, and Bill Hader is super endearing as the doofy, earnest sports surgeon, but this isn't as funny as I thought it was going to be.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Magic Mike XXL: This Time Strippers Are Just Strippers

Before we dive into this review, before y'all put on your Judgement Glasses, let it just be known that I saw this movie for free and had I not been invited to go see it with a colleague, I'd probably just wait to watch it on my parents' cable at 3am like any self-respecting human being.

Okay, let's do this.

Magic Mike (Channing Tatum) has made his original dream of designing furniture (don't act like you haven't seen the first one) into a reality. Making custom pieces and selling it has become his new employment and his days of stripping are over. Until he receives a phone call from some of his old buddies who are still in "the business." Heading down to Myrtle Beach (of all places??) for the year's national Stripper Convention (I sincerely hope that this is a real thing), Mike decides to make one last hurrah for all of stripperdom.

This poster kind of says it all, doesn't it?

-Sigh-. start....

So...the interesting thing about this round of gratuitous six-packed men parading around with their six packs grinding on things and showing off their six packs, is that they don't even have to pretend that there's a message in this movie.

Except six packs. 
Six packs are a very important part of the message of XXL

I actually genuinely liked Magic Mike, the original, because it had something to say about being in a shitty industry and wanting to get out of it. The stripper part was shoved in our faces, sure, but there was also a lot of exposure--pun only partially intended--of what this kind of an industry can do to you (spoiler alert: bad things). Magic Mike also took pains to have a soul, featuring a sweet romance and letting Channing Tatum show off the adorable awkward-in-love acting chops that all of us ladies melt over.

XXL by contrast owns up to it's commercial, excessive name. Instead of focusing on Mike's actual life, we get to watch as he powers up for one last strippery party of drinking, drugs, nudity, and general debauchery.

Instead of reading like Magic Mike's cautionary tale of what not to get wrapped up in, Magic Mike XXL hits you like a drug and alchohol-fueled night out with a surprising lack of consequences.

The one thing that I did find hilarious about XXL is that it makes a lame attempt at giving these guys the chance to express their dreams for after they're done stripping. But--get this--the way that they express these dreams is through (drum roll): stripping. The huge finale gives these guys the chance to strip in acts that feature their coveted futures.

Spoiler alert: not actual wedding.

This isn't to say that Magic Mike XXL isn't a good time. While I hit my limit at watching these guys grind into women's ecstatic faces (I really don't get it.) there are plenty of laughs and plenty of glorious male eye candy to keep you entertained for the full 2 hours.

Which, let's be real, is probably why people went to go see the original one.

All in all, XXL lives up to its name. Hope you're into well-defined abs and Channing Tatum dance routines.

Reasons to watch:
1. Channing Tatum's dance to "Pony"
2. Channing Tatum's dance at the end
3. Channing Tatum's dance in Atlanta
4. Channing Tatum.

Sorry, not sorry.

5 outa 10. I could do without the male thongs.

I'm embarrassed to show this trailer. But, here you go: