“Raise your hand if my father offended you.. Now raise your hand if he was your favorite person…”
Ever since her father drilled into her head that monogamy isn’t realistic, magazine writer Amy (Amy Schumer) has made promiscuity her credo. As much as she enjoys an uninhibited life free of commitment, Amy is really in a rut. While writing a profile about charming and successful sports doctor Aaron Conners (Bill Hader), she finds herself actually falling in love for the first time — and what’s more, Aaron seems to like her too. Amy starts to wonder if it’s time to clean up her act.
Amy Schumer has the type of personality that is either endearing or abrasive depending on the individual’s personal taste. Her comedy show has been compared to Dave Chappelle’s and has been lauded as clever and deftly written sketch comedy, with a knack for providing self aware humor. empowering to women. Able to garner a lot of attention due to her show, Schumer recently attempted to parlay that into film, and so Judd Apatow’s Trainwreck was born. Schumer having a hand in writing the film, adds her distinct brand of brash and honest comedic timing to a genre that her personality would seem an unlikely fit. Trainwreck is a solid romantic comedy, because it’s not actually a romantic comedy. She brings her hyper relatability to the film where she plays a semi fictional version of herself. At first glance, this is just your run of the mill Rom-Com with little originality, but Trainwreck finds a way to produce genuine moments even if the story is a bit formulaic. Apatow asserts himself in the directors chair, and it’s clear from the first frame this is the man that directed films like Knocked Up, Funny People, and of course the great The 40 Year Old Virgin. There is something to be said with his style, he has a very personal feel, and this film follows the same tone and beats of his former projects including the improvisational moments that Apatow invokes from his actors.
The story is a creatively smart re-imagining of a classic formulaic Rom-Com. Basically Trainwreck goes through the motions, but the dialogue and performances transcend the story and make everything come together in a vibrantly hilarious film. Schumer get’s her first feature writing credit and showcases just how talented she really is. from the opening scene where we settle in on young Amy and her sister sitting concentrated on there father as he heeds his warnings regarding the perils of monogamy, it’s clear we’re in for a riot. We have that flash of the raunchy brilliance we see weekly on Inside Amy Schumer. Fast forward to Amy in modern day as she narrates her sexual escapades in an effort to market her life choices to the audience and give the false illusion that she is happy. Breaking into a montage of comedy while she skirts all forms of commitment with her many suitors including the hilarious John Cena, The film begins slightly off putting, the goal is to highlight her negative traits so that the audience can witness the awkward transition she makes when she meets her prince charming.
The team up between Schumer and Apatow seemed an unlikely match itself. Apatow is known for projects largely from the male point of view and has been criticized for his portrayal of female characters in some of his other films, including criticism from Katherine Heigl, who was the star of his acclaimed film, Knocked Up. Electing to direct a Schumer written film was an inspired decision, that defies those criticisms he’s received so prevalently in the past. This is an extremely honest view into the life of a commitment phobic woman dealing with real life issues, and acting and reacting in honest and sometimes grating ways. The handling of the characters and story was delicate and methodical, Schumer and Apatow never manage to cross any lines but push the envelope further than any before in this type of genre. This is a special type of film, unlike other stories of regressive or promiscuous women, she was not jilted or jaded into her lifestyle, but instead it’s a product of her environment. She is her father’s daughter, and her father has hammered into her head that “monogamy isn’t realistic” from an early age. It’s nice to see a woman that is the way she is because that is just who she is. Too many times we see women in these films be shaped at the hands of a man, but Trainwreck is all about turning the stereotype on it’s head and giving a distinctly female point of view.
The performances are the most surprising part of Trainwreck. Yes Amy Schumer is great. She finds a way to insert her brand of brash, bold, and raunchy comedy into her character, but somehow it works in a way that never seems too over the top. She is unlikable in the beginning, but she is written to be unlikeable. What was more surprising is her ability to deftly transition from dramatic moments to witty asides at the drop of a hat. She weaves in and out of difficult situations with a graceful comedic presence that allows for a believable well rounded character. Her ability to build rapport with everyone on screen is incredible, and the chemistry is there in every scene. Bill Hader has been opening the eyes of a lot of critics and audiences alike. His role in The Skeleton Twins, alongside Kristen Wiig, was a revelatory performance that showcased his range. Hader shines once again in Trainwreck, taking a awkward character and making him endearingly likable. He plays successful Sports doctor Aaron Connors, who is being profiled in a piece for Amy’s men’s magazine by Amy herself. What has to be noted is the palpable chemistry between Schumer and Hader, which leads to an explosively charismatic budding relationship. While the leads are fantastic there are a slew of scene stealing side characters that take front and center. Comedian Dave Attell makes a few appearances as the homeless man making inappropriate remarks to Amy outside her building on a number of occasions, they are always hilarious. Colin Quinn, as the father, is cynically delightful and relays a similar barrage of inappropriate comments that land time and again throughout the film. John Cena is a surprise standout, with one particularly over the top stingy sequence in a movie theater. His comedic timing is underrated and he may have found a home in comedy features. Then of course there is LeBron James. The one man show, LeBron steals every minute of screen time he’s in. He is self aware in his comedy and makes a plethora of self conscious jokes that are painfully funny. The rest of the cast including Amy’s co-workers and her boss played by an unrecognizable Tilda Swinton, provide several moments of levity in an already hilarious film. Brie Larson and Mike Birbiglia as the sister and brother in law are always a pleasure, and the family dynamic is what gives these characters a more realistic dimensional feel. All in all, there is not really a bad performance to be had.
Trainwreck is Amy Schumers vehicle, and she drives the hell out of it. It is 90 minutes of astonishingly bright and observant humor, the very same that she consistently works into her sketch comedy show. The final third of the film is where things seem to drift, falling into the more stereotypical Rom-Com tropes. The film unfortunately stops being original and opts for a more traditional ending, this is particularly egregious only because the first two acts are so brilliant. Schumer enveloped herself into this movie proving that she’s more than just the TV sketch comedy queen and that she can extend her wit beyond a few minutes per story. This is a film that’s near impossible to avoid laughing at, and just as difficult to not find it charming and moving. The general arc is not exactly the most unique, and we’ve seen this basic plot and similar characters in other genre films, but Trainwreck finds a way to bring a perspective that allows for it’s characters and story to standout due to an immensely talented writing and directing duo in Schumer and Apatow. The underlying moral here is all about self esteem. Amy may be boisterous and confident on the surface, but it’s a story about not accepting what you know in heart you want because you don’t feel like it’s what you deserve. In this respect Trainwreck is a vigilant, biting and maybe even sometimes abrasive but still brilliant comedy with likeable characters, heartwarming moments and so many laughs you’ll be crying.
4.3/5 Pretty Cool Bro