Director Judd Apatow and actor/screenwriter Amy Schumer partner to advance the genre of Rom-com to a place where both men and women enjoy it equally, in this tart, very funny, yet ultimately formulaic film. Watch Cinema Siren’s review here,, including interviews with the cast, and find out why Schumer deserves to rise to the top of Hollywood’s comedic food chain:
For readers who prefer the written version of the Trainwreck review:
New release Trainwreck has the potential to raise Amy Schumer’s status in Hollywood, adding her to a growing list of A-list actresses that can make bank at the box office. She could be yet another comedian who can carry a film and still play multi-dimensional, funny characters, proving audiences don’t just want to see 20-something ingenues. But is this Trainwreck worth slowing down for?
From the time they are pre-teens, racist homophobic dad Gordon, (Colin Quinn) has drilled it into the heads of his daughters Amy (Amy Schumer, who stars and also wrote the script) and Kim (Brie Larson) that monogamy is a poisonous, destructive soul-crusher. Amy grows up taking that to heart, and as a successful writer for a tabloid magazine that seems like a smuttier version of Cosmopolitan called “SNUFF”, working for hell-on-heels managing editor Dianna (the compulsively watchable chameleon Tilda Swinton), she spends her time drinking away her feelings, fleeing her one-night-stands just after sex, and cheating on her boyfriend. Her sister has gone the other direction, settling down with nice-guy Tom (Mike Birbiglia), whom Amy routinely disparages.
When Dianna forces sports-averse Amy to profile the top doctor in sports medicine Aaron Conners (Bill Hader), she finds herself falling for a guy whose positive traits and goodness are impossible to ignore. Being with him shows her she hasn’t really been happy, and has to decide if she wants to change, and deal with her issues.
Director Judd Apatow has always had strong, flawed characters in his films, both male and female, and also casts strong actors he seems to know will work particularly well together. He does so again in this movie. Schumer, as star and screenwriter, brings just enough of her pitch black wit and edgy style used on “Inside Amy Schumer” to keep her current fans happy, while bending just enough towards the usual trappings inherent in romantic comedies to make new ones. Her character is unapologetically sexual, ambitious in her career, and witty, all refreshing qualities to see in a woman onscreen. She is, however, also blithely self destructive. In short, she’s someone almost all of us know. Be advised, this character is not someone you’ll start the movie liking. At one point, when she does something particularly messed up, I leaned over to my sister and whispered, “that is NOT COOL”. She responded, “yeah. It’s called Trainwreck for a reason”. Schumer used much of her own life in the writing of the film, apparently a spot-on portrayal of her dad, even naming the character after him. She has mentioned many times some of the more irresponsible or prickly aspects of her character reflect some of her own weaknesses. She talks about it here:
Bill Hader as already shown in great under-seen indie The Skeleton Twins he can play equal parts comedy and tragedy. It’s great to see him as leading man here. Granted, the character of Aaron Conners is a bit too good to be true in the “this guy is worth changing for” department. In real life, commitment-phobes have to make due falling in love with fallible, imperfect partners that challenge them in ways beyond the need to question their own fear of digging in and doing the work. But this is Hollywood, and a sports doctor who talks Downton Abbey and intimacy issues with LeBron James, and wins awards from Doctors Without Borders is what leads Amy to self-examination.
Tilda Swinton gets to play barracuda beautiful as a sort of low-fi tabloid version of Anna Wintour, bringing narcissism to new hilarious heights. As a purely secondary role, she steals every moment onscreen, and it’s clear both Schumer and Apatow wanted it that way.
Brie Larson and Mike Birbiglia are winning as two voices of reason, and I especially liked the realistic relationship portrayed between Kim and Amy. Amy is both sweet and cruel to her sister, which proves yet another a catalyst for change. Both their more playful and darker interactions are something most viewers can relate to and connect with, allowing us to hang in there and forgive her as her sister does. As actresses, they also have great chemistry.
There are other secondary characters that heighten the fun, add edge, and entertain, especially LeBron James, although i’m one of those who wouldn’t have known what he looked like before this movie. *shrug* LeBron James talks about being in the movie:
Look for some hilarious cameos, the best of which are by Daniel Radcliffe and Marisa Tomei. Amy talks about the cast:
Trainwreck, though still maintaining its predictable boy-meets-girl plot, brings back the rom-com by centering story around a relatable, flawed character, sharp, sometimes raunchy humour, and a believable character arc that hooks audiences into staying connected to Schumer’s mess of humanity. Both Apatow and Schumer get kudos for adding a compulsively watchable comedy with a woman we alternately hate, love, feel for, relate to, and cheer for.
The movie’s not perfect, and neither is Amy, but it’s a strong step in the right direction.