Film Review – Trainwreck
Like each of Judd Apatow‘s directorial efforts before it, Trainwreck wears its raunchy heart on its sleeve. Unlike each of Judd Apatow’s directorial efforts before it, Trainwreck is written by someone other than himself. Amy Schumer both writes and stars, and puts her distinctive voice to work in what could otherwise be seen as a traditional, hard-R romantic comedy. The story beats are standard Apatow. Carefree galoot finds true love and hesitantly decides to grow up. But Schumer’s wit and likeability sustain the traditionally overstuffed runtime (although 122 minutes is nothing in Apatow Years).
Schumer plays Amy (keeping it simple), a hard-drinking, pot-smoking men’s magazine contributor who passes her evenings charming and bedding men who look and talk like John Cena. An opening flashback shows her father Gordon (a never-better Colin Quinn) explaining to his two young daughters that monogamy is a crock. Amy, unlike her seemingly well-adjusted sister (21 Jump Street‘s Brie Larson), takes this advice to heart. She rejects men before she can become attached. She coasts on her hungover charm and claims to have no regrets. Dad would have been so proud.
Amy’s boss (an unrecognizable Tilda Swinton) tasks her with an article on sports injuries, priding the innovation of assigning it to a young woman who could give a shit about sports. Enter Aaron (Bill Hader), a sports surgeon who finds a quick and adorable rapport with Amy as the interview subject of her article. A night on the town leads to drunken sex and the most adorably pathetic attempt at cuddling you’re likely to see this year. Amy’s lifestyle protects her from forming meaningful relationships, but she boldly makes the exception for Aaron. The question is whether or not he can handle her lifestyle.
A movie like this lives or dies on the chemistry of its leads. Schumer, even in her most despicable of moments, maintains a sense of raw humanity that makes Amy a refreshing change of pace for the genre. And Hader knocks it out of the park as Aaron, delivering some of the most gut-busting lines I’ve heard in months. Comedy fans are treated to a cavalcade of cameos. It would be unfair to reveal them all, but both Vanessa Bayer (Saturday Night Live) and Jon Glaser (Parks and Recreation) deserve singling out for their hilariously strange contributions. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the inclusion of LeBron James, playing himself. I’m generally tentative of sports celebrity cameos but James won me over with his bizarre line deliveries and willingness to make fun of himself.
Those expecting a lampooning of rom-com tropes run the risk of leaving disappointed. While there’s some poking of fun to be had, most overtly with its self-aware voiceover narration, Trainwreck veers dangerously close to Clichésville. Apatow sets a sad montage to a sad song like the best in the business and an earlier scene at a funeral packs an emotional punch I advise you to be prepared for. But, as it apparently must, we end on a needlessly elaborate reconciliation scene, full with pop music soundtrack. I’m not a monster. Hell, I smiled like a goon. I just think we’re entering an interesting point in Amy Schumer’s career and projects to come might better allow the flapping of her particular freak flag. Still, we’re at a pretty good starting point.