Judd Apatow hopes to tickle the Academy’s funny bone with “Trainwreck”

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Making a comedy that gets recognized by the Oscars is an almost impossible pursuit. Best Picture nominees that are comedies are few and far between, let alone winners. Still, there are some filmmakers who traffic in laughs and you really feel can make a mark with the Academy. Judd Apatow is one of them. He had a few brushes with awards attention early in his directorial career, but his recent efforts haven’t done much for voters, even as the material has been baitier and baitier. Will a return to simplicity with his Amy Schumer vehicle Trainwreck be the cure? We shall see, but it looks hilarious, if nothing else.

When Apatow moved from producing and writing to also directing, he burst on the scene with The 40 Year Old Virgin. Teamed up with now Academy Award nominee Steve Carell, they crafted an uproarious sex comedy that also managed to have a ton of heart. Both Apatow and Carell (who co-wrote with him) were cited with a Writers Guild of America nomination, and I’d go so far as to say that if that had been a mandatory year of ten Best Picture nominees, we might have seen The 40 Year Old Virgin make it in. The same could be said of his follow up, Knocked Up, which again scored Apatow a WGA nod (a solo one this time). He made a star out of Seth Rogen, at the same time he was beginning to also shepherd other big comedies to the screen. He made the hits Superbad, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and Pineapple Express, establishing himself as one of the most influential and powerful comedy voices in Hollywood, to say the least. That led to a move towards slightly more serious fare, possibly in an effort to finally break through with the Golden Globes and Oscar.

Even though I adore Funny People, it was met with modest reviews and was Apatow’s first modern box office disappointment. It showcased some of Adam Sandler’s best work to date, but it was to many a bloated film with far too much going on. It was more or less ignored by all precursors, with the same being said for his sort of sequel to Knocked Up, the relationship dramedy This is 40. Now, he’s opted to get back to basics a bit, making a comedy in Trainwreck that seems more like something we would have made during the time when The 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up were becoming smash hits.

Trainwreck stars and is written by Schumer, while Apatow just directs for the first time. The official plot synopsis is as follows: “Since she was a little girl, it’s been drilled into Amy’s (Schumer) head by her rascal of a dad (Colin Quinn) that monogamy isn’t realistic. Now a magazine writer, Amy lives by that credo—enjoying what she feels is an uninhibited life free from stifling, boring romantic commitment—but in actuality, she’s kind of in a rut. When she finds herself starting to fall for the subject of the new article she’s writing, a charming and successful sports doctor named Aaron Conners (Bill Hader), Amy starts to wonder if other grown-ups, including this guy who really seems to like her, might be on to something.” Aside from the aforementioned players, the movie also features Brie Larson, Tilda Swinton, and even LeBron James in the cast.

Could this be something that the Academy jives to? Probably not, but it seems like it could really play well with the Globes, as well as perhaps getting Schumer some attention with the WGA. Apatow’s work has a home there, so that’s something to keep an eye on next year. The film doesn’t open until July 17th, but it’s now one of my most anticipated of 2015. You can see the Trailer that just debuted below, but file this one away as potentially something that could surprise during the precursor season. If nothing else, it’s probably going to be hilarious and a really good time at the movies. I’m a fan of both Apatow and Schumer, so it’d be thrilling to see this be another hit for the former and a star making turn for the latter. We’ll find out this summer, that’s for sure…

Here is the Trailer:

Stay tuned to see if Trainwreck is a hit in July!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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