Good One

What did the snail say as he was riding on the turtle's back?

Give up?


OK, so maybe I don't have a big future in stand-up comedy. Fortunately, I don't need one, because that arena is being capably covered by a lot of talented people these days, two of whom just put out movies. Granted, one is a pretty straightforward documentary, and one is a bawdy scripted rom-com, but both come from comics I really enjoy and respect. The first movie was the Netflix documentary Tig, which focuses in on the portion of comedian Tig Notaro's life that rocketed her to stardom. I've gone to a Tig Notaro show, and her deadpan sets never fail to set off some deep belly laughs. Her most well-known set came after being diagnosed with breast cancer. This was on the heels of her mother's death, a bacterial infection, and a bad breakup. The way she processed this was through her comedy, and the documentary goes into how she pulled herself through this time.

It's not just about her reaction to disaster, though. Tig also follows the events in the time since. How she deals with the media attention as the result of this set, the evolution of a joke from so-so to killer, and the life plans she's made for herself now. The movie doesn't shy away from bad news, which I appreciated. But with all that said, and as much as I like Tig Notaro as a comedian, this was essentially a straightforward chain-of-events biography, and appears to have been produced pretty rapidly to cash in on her current popularity. It was definitely worth watching, but didn't distinguish itself as a movie.

On the flip side, Amy Schumer's new movie, Trainwreck, definitely distinguishes itself. Though it's fictional (and directed by Judd Apatow), it's also clearly a bit autobiographical. Her character (Amy, natch) was taught by her father at a young age that monogamous relationships are a joke, and she's taken that into her adult life, enjoying a drunken series of one-night-stands. Things begin to change when she meets a sports doctor (Bill Hader), who is refreshingly open about wanting to date her. She's taken aback, and all the terrible habits she's wormed her way into have to be unlearned.

As a comedy, it's great. Obviously, the true measure of a comedy is how much I laughed, and I laughed a lot. The jokes land, the cameos are terrific, and Bill Hader is very adept at playing a romantic lead. As a movie, though, it has some issues, most of which can probably be laid at Apatow's door. Like all his movies, it could easily stand to be a good twenty minutes shorter. Like all his movies, there's an odd sense of romantic conservatism running through the storyline: Amy cannot truly be happy until she stops drinking, settles down, and is implied to be coming around on her decision to not have children. That's pretty irksome.

She also works at a men's magazine, which is such a '90s cliche, but I won't complain about it, because it gives us an unrecognizable Tilda Swinton as Amy's boss and editor. I wouldn't trade her bitchy barbs for the world. Brie Larson is reliably excellent as the sister who chose a more traditional life, and hell, even LeBron James is likeable in this movie. Amy Schumer has been killing it on TV lately, and with Trainwreck, it looks like she's pretty easily expanding her influence into movies as well. Let's hope in the next one, she's allowed to escape the bonds of traditional rom-com endings.

Tig: B
Trainwreck: B+


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