Trainwreck

Trainwreck photo starrating-4stars.jpgTrainwreck is a romantic comedy with a different point of view – Amy Schumer‘s. She isn’t interested in settling down. Part of the humor is her knee-jerk reaction to leave quickly after every one-night stand before it develops into a relationship. This is regardless of how sweet, sincere or handsome her date is.  This is especially true when she meets Dr. Aaron Connors (Bill Hader).  It’s difficult at times to comprehend why she acts the way she does. That’s the beauty of the screenplay. We view her so-called male sensibility with fresh eyes. There’s some insight into her worldview in the very first scene – a flashback of her father giving Amy and her younger sister Kim some advice when they were little girls. His “monogamy isn’t realistic” speech draws an analogy the little ones can understand: “What if you were told that you could only play with just one doll for the rest of your life?” Twenty-three years later we see the results of those words. Amy took the lesson to heart and has never looked back. However her sister (Brie Larson), resisted the suggestion and has settled down into a happy existence of domesticity with her husband (Mike Birbiglia) and their son. Kim is a nice counterpoint to her sister. Larson makes the most of a portrayal that could’ve been the target of jokes but the presentation of her reality, while sedate, is one of happiness.

Actually Trainwreck is populated by a supporting cast of really well written side characters that make a strong impression. Amy works as a writer at a dopey men’s interest magazine called S’NUFF that publishes articles like “The Ugliest Celebrity Children Under 6″. Her place of employment is the setting for some very clever material. Tilda Swinton stands out in a supporting performance as Amy’s editor. To be honest, at first I didn’t recognize the British actress with her long tresses and heavy eyeliner. I thought, “Who is this hilarious woman that kind of resembles Tilda Swinton?“ The Grand Budapest Hotel, Snowpiercer, and now this – once again she really shines. Tilda Swinton is like bacon. She makes everything better. In addition the production reunites Tilda with Ezra Miller, her co-star from We Need to Talk About Kevin. Miller plays an odd intern.

Trainwreck is full of random people that defy conventions. These include pro wrestler John Cena as a sweet musclehead that is closest thing she has to a boyfriend. He only wants to settle down with Amy. There’s professional basketball player LeBron James as Aaron’s effusive best friend who doesn’t want to see his buddy get hurt. Did I mention he’s a big fan of Downton Abbey? The fact that LeBron is supposed to be playing himself makes his unexpected personality quirks even more random. His counterpart in Amy’s life is Nikki, Amy’s best friend played by Vanessa Bayer. “Why would he call? You guys just had sex.” More role reversal. And that’s merely the beginning. Amy has written a production with parts that allow a whole cast to shine. There are a ton other cameos. No more disclosures. They’ll be more amusing when you discover them for yourself.

Is Judd Apatow the directorial successor to James L. Brooks? Kind of looks that way. Trainwreck is as funny & poignant as Brooks in his prime. Judd Apatow directed but Amy Schumer wrote the script and this movie has her fingerprints all over it. The generic romantic comedy model tells the chronicle of a man who dates a lot of women. He can’t be tied down. He doesn’t want the commitment of a relationship, simply the superficial pleasures that serial dating affords. Then one day he meets the woman that challenges his expectations and nothing will ever be the same from that point on.

Trainwreck follows that romantic comedy blueprint. The difference? Amy Schumer is the “man” who shuns commitment. Heck. It goes far beyond that. She doesn’t even want a second date. Then she meets successful and charming sports doctor, Aaron Connors. Comedian Bill Hader is the “woman” that challenges her approach to relationships. If this was Trainwreck’s only contribution, it might not have been so innovative. But Amy Schumer amplifies the folly of such attitudes with the role reversal. Her character, also named Amy, is such a strange bird. The behavior doesn’t exactly make her endearing. As the story progresses and Dr. Connors becomes almost saintly, you just want to shake Amy to her senses. But the conduct makes her funny and there are laughs, insightful ones that belie her hedonistic perspective. Even when she is making fun of her sister’s domesticity, you can sense a little jealousy behind her barbs. It’s that bitterness mixed with sensitivity that comes through and makes her personality someone we want to embrace.

04-09-15

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30 Responses to “Trainwreck”

  1. I’m very interested in this one. I don’t follow Schumer a lot but just seeing a different perspective from a common story put this on my radar. Lucky you for being able to watch so early!

    • She is probably best known as the star of the sketch comedy series Inside Amy Schumer on Comedy Central. The 3rd season starts April 21, 2015. I suspect this movie will raise her profile considerably.

      • I know of what she does, but I’ve never really watched her material or stand-up. I too think that this is arriving at a nice point in the summer and should raise her profile to the uninitiated like me 🙂

  2. Nice review Mark. I long since got tired of the usual Apatow staple of lame comedies starring Paul Rudd, but I might just give this a try. By the way, I simply loved this: “Tilda Swinton is like bacon. She makes everything better.” I’m going to use this in everyday conversation! Superb!

  3. Fantastic review! Wasn’t interested in this one before, to be honest, but I really am now!

  4. I’m with Fernando, originally wasn’t too intrigued by this (other than the LeBron cameo. . .lol) but this sounds properly funny. Smart. Charming.

    Great and exciting review.

  5. You’re so lucky. I have to spend three more months anticipating this one, and now you’ve already seen it and have written a review to excite me more. 🙂

  6. I love Amy Schumer’s stand up and her television show. She relishes pushing the envelope with her comedy especially in regard to deying gender streotypes, so I’m not surprised to hear she’s written a funny movie where she takes on the role typically occupied by a man in romantic comedies. Can’t wait to see this one.

  7. This sounds excellent!

  8. This was such a shock to me. I know Amy’s comedy and thought this would not work. Boy was I wrong. Her humor worked so well in this comedy. I loved it a lot. 4 stars

  9. robyn g Says:

    Sounds weird, but the main reason I’m going is for Bill Hader. Crush on him became MEGA after “The Skeleton Twins”. Thanks to your review it sounds like there will be a lot more than BH to enjoy. Thanks, Mark!

  10. Fun review! Loved this movie.. perfect mix of raunchy, funny and heartfelt sweetness. But you saw this back in April?? now that’s an early screening if I’ve ever seen one!! 😀

  11. I had a really great time at this movie. Glad you did too, and your review is spot-on.

    The only real problems I had with the movie were that it was a little too long, and I felt the last twenty minutes spun it out of control a little bit. But still a very funny and sincere movie. I really hope Amy Schumer and Judd Apatow decide to collaborate again.

    • I would agree it’s a bit long. 90 minutes is the sweet spot for comedies and this being 124 minutes pushed that past the limit. I guess they needed Aaron and Amy to have some big conflict at the end so they would have something to resolve. Cue the happy ending. Awwwww.

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