by E. Ladd
Comedian Amy Schumer’s brand of humor may not be for everyone, but I find her hilarious. Raunchy, self-deprecating, and curiously insightful, if you’ve ever seen her Comedy Central show Inside Amy Schumer, you’ll know what I’m talking about. And so, I was happily anticipating the film Trainwreck, which opens this weekend, written by her and directed by Judd Apatow, (The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Bridesmaids, and TV show Freaks and Geeks).
The film opens with father (Colin Quinn) advising his little girl Amy and her sister Kim that monogamy isn’t possible, using a devious analogy about having only one doll to play with for the rest of their lives. Fast forward to adult Amy (played by Schumer) who’s living in New York City, working as a writer for men’s magazine S’Nuff, and boozing it up with one night stands in her free time. Sure, she’s sort of seeing this meathead gym rat dude named Steven (played by professional wrestler John Cena), but that falls apart because she’s ultimately convinced that traditional romantic relationships aren’t for her. Enter sports doctor Aaron Conners (Bill Hader) as a writing assignment subject and what follows is a humorous, yet formulaic romcom story about a girl who has to come to grips with her hedonistic ways and casual attitude toward sex and relationships because she may have just found actual love.
Trainwreck is incredibly funny. You find yourself laughing so hard that you may actually be missing the next equally hilarious line. Schumer is fun to watch, with an effervescent accessibility and a likable, devil-may-care, supremely potty-mouthed persona. Equally entertaining are the host of characters that she’s created: the truly ridiculous and wow-did-he-just-go-there? (plus very naked in one notable scene) John Cena’s Steven, the uber bitch viper of a magazine editor Dianna (Tilda Swinton in a most excellent and uncharacteristic comedic role), SNL’s Vanessa Bayer as seriously silly coworker Nikki, and LeBron James, as “himself”, but a penny pinching version who spends his free time watching Downton Abbey and becoming engrossed in the relationships of his closest male friends. Hader is a charming leading man and the movie is chock full of cameos, which include comedian Dave Attell as homeless bum Noam, SNL veteran Tim Meadows, Wu-Tang member Method Man, and a bevy of famous actors, athletes and one well-known sports announcer.
The film is a non-stop bombardment of excellent one and two liners involving observations about relationships and sex. “Who wants to be with the person that was the best sex you ever had? He’s probably in jail.” (That made me laugh really hard, for some odd reason). The writing is sharp and often vulgar, crude, profane, (oh, pick an adjective): it’s pretty great. Even when the film switches gears and decides to run into deeper, more heartfelt territory, I didn’t mind because it was well executed.
My only qualm with the film is this: for such a ribald character, both as a stand-up comedian/actress and tv show/screenplay writer, Schumer somehow decided to go with the maintenance of the status quo. The movie turns sweet. And tender. And romantic. Perhaps Apatow’s handling as director had something to do with this. The characters of his films are often the sort who discover true love and find their lives better off because of it, also emphasizing the importance of family. A dirtier, more guy accessible, up-to-date Bridget Jones style film is what we’re getting with Trainwreck. And I honestly found that a bit surprising. I think I was disappointed that Amy turns out to be a female lead character who, despite the insecurities which may have led to her hilarious drunken/sexual behavior, somehow gets turned around and changes her ways once she meets the right man. If you’re going to be a bawdy, boozy, clever, fiercely independent woman, why not just own it? A la Mae West? And yet, I know the answer, as that there was pretty much a rhetorical question. This is a mainstream American comedy film, which, despite pushing the envelope to a certain degree of raunchitude (it’s ok to invent words), still has the overtly sexual leading lady seducing men while never removing her bra. Case in point. How vanilla. It’s still a riot of a film and you’ll laugh your ass off, I just wish they’d pushed it a little further, especially knowing what Ms. Schumer is capable of.
Watch the trailer for Trainwreck
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