Well this is a rarity: a weekend where I’m actually interested in seeing all the wide releases. Granted, there are only two of them, but that seems like an embarrassment of riches after the bulk of the summer has featured one big name and a bunch of “Eh, I guess I’ll see that eventually” every week. In the past, we’d be winding down the summer season already, but films like Guardians of the Galaxy and Rise of the Planet of the Apes have shown there’s money to be made right until the dying light of Labor Day, and there are still some big guns ahead of us. But that’s for future posts. Let’s get back to the films joining the fray this week.
Even if I didn’t know anything about the film, the poster for Trainwreck would have me interested. It’s a great, evocative image, perfectly telling you what to expect from a film with that title. Fortunately, I do know a good bit about the film, although, without cable, my exposure to star and writer Amy Schumer has been confined to whatever sketches of hers go viral after they air on her TV series. But from what I’ve seen, she’s a fearlessly confident comic performer who’s not afraid to challenge the perceived roles of women in comedy. Judd Apatow, on the other hand, hasn’t maintained that golden touch he seemed to have in the wake of The Forty-Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up; his two films after that, Funny People and This is 40, didn’t even combine to make what Knocked Up did. So I get the feeling that while Schumer will be fine no matter how Trainwreck fares, Apatow really needs this to be a hit to restore a little bit of his luster and take back the comedy crown that Paul Feig seems to have seized of late.
There’s another litmus test being released today. Ant-Man doesn’t quite feel like the out-there gamble that Guardians of the Galaxy did. But with Age of Ultron being about as disappointing as a $1.3 billion worldwide grosser can be — honestly, who would have called Jurassic World over Ultron back in April? — the “super-hero fatigue” talk has started. Coupled with Ant-Man‘s behind-the-scenes drama and the way Marvel has sort of sandwiched the film between its Phases 2 and 3, some are pointing to this as this year’s candidate to be the Inevitable Marvel Failure. Thing is, I don’t think Marvel is honestly expecting all that much from this. It was announced so long ago, before the MCU had fully coalesced into what it’s become, and really sort of just hung around while the other core films were doing their thing. I really think Marvel will be happy if this doesn’t come out and fall flat on its face. A gross somewhere around what the original Thor did would probably be seen as a win. And with still-tough competition like Minions, Inside Out and Jurassic World, I think expectations for this one are in check. If any film can cast Marvel as the scrappy underdog in the box office fight, it’s probably this one.
Of course, that says nothing about the quality of the film, which I fear will fall for many along the lines of how much you feel about Edgar Wright. I’ve already seen some reviews that talked more about the Wright film we didn’t get rather than the Peyton Reed film we actually did. Yes, losing Wright from the project was disappointing, but that’s no fault of Reed’s, who’s done some fine work of his own with Bring It On and Down with Love (which got him mentioned as a possible choice for a 1960s-set Fantastic Four which I wish had actually happened). And walking in with a chip on your shoulder isn’t fair to those who actually did work on the film. Judge it by what’s on the screen, not what’s playing in your mind.