7.5 out of 10
Amy Schumer as Amy
Directed by Judd Apatow
Amy Townsend (Amy Schumer) has been happily living a life of avoiding intimacy and relationships with a series of one-night stands, but when she’s assigned to write a magazine story about sports doctor Dr. Aaron Conners (Bill Hader) and the two of them start getting close, Amy freaks out and begins to resort to her old ways.
By now, Amy Schumer needs little introduction since her Comedy Central show “Inside Amy Schumer” has become one of the most talked-about things on television the day after every episode airs. Trainwreck gives Schumer a chance to explore long-form storytelling with the help of Judd Apatow, who has become the king of the raunchy rom-com both as a director and as producer.
In this Trainwreck movie review, Schumer writes and stars as a character presumably somewhat based on her own life at least in terms of her family. (We’re not going to make any presumptions about her social/sex life being anything like her character’s.) We meet Amy and her sister Kim as they’re young girls told by their father (Colin Quinn) that he’s divorcing their mother to keep his options open. “Monogamy is a lie,” he has them repeat as a mantra, and decades later, Amy is still living by that dogma, sleeping with men who she kicks to the curb before the sun comes up. The one exception is the muscle-bound Steven (wrestler Jon Cena) who wants to get more serious with Amy, who is assigned by her editor at S’Nuff Magazine to write about a sports doctor (Bill Hader). They hit it off, but Amy soon learns he’s more serious about her than she’s willing to get. At the same time, Amy’s younger sister Kimberly (Brie Larson) has gone the opposite road, having just married a single father (Mike Birbiglia) and they soon have another baby on the way.
That’s the basic premise of what is essentially Schumer’s twist on the typical romantic comedy, because for once, it’s not the guy who doesn’t want to commit, but the woman herself. The thing is that I’m not really sure I like Amy’s character in the movie, which kept me from absolutely loving Trainwreck, as funny as it gets at times. Maybe it’s the cranky old man in me that I’ve had issues with other movies about modern young New York women (like Obvious Child). Trainwreck is certainly better than some others, but Amy isn’t someone I would have in my circle of friends, regardless of how honest she is about sex and relationships. In fact, I might have a hard time not judging her character’s decisions, which creates a real dilemma when trying to enjoy the movie, especially when it tries to excuse being men and insensitive for the sake of being funny. In some cases, it works better than others.
Once you get past that, and most people will, you can appreciate how Schumer has expanded her stand-up and TV work to incorporate and develop characters beyond four-to-five minute sketches. Some of the funniest moments involve Amy’s interaction with her boss (played by Tilda Swinton) and co-workers including the always-funny Randall Park and S’nuff’s intern, played by Ezra Miller (a mini-We Need to Talk About Kevin reunion!). Sadly, we don’t get nearly enough of this comedy gold and Miller’s arc ends up going in a very creepy direction.
There are also some surprisingly touching moments, especially when it comes to Amy and her abusive alcoholic father (played by Colin Quinn) as they remain close in his final days, and it’s where she shows she has acting chops and can do more than smirk and sneer at everything around her.
One of Trainwreck’s most impressive aspects is how Apatow casts professional athletes like basketball greats Lebron James and Amar’e Stoudemire essentially playing themselves, and yet, they’re just as funny as the stand-up comedy ringers scattered throughout the movie. Cena also gets to play with his image as Amy’s semi-boyfriend, having an extremely awkward sex scene.
Apatow also proves himself to be one of the best comedy editor, able to get the most out of Schumer’s bits to garner the biggest laughs. And yet, even working from Amy Schumer’s screenplay he’s essentially using the same formula he did in his early movies The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up where the main relationship eventually hits a hurdle but somehow is saved when one of them makes a sacrifice for the other. (In this case, we get Schumer doing a dance routine with the Knicks City Dancers, which seems to come from out of left field and makes absolutely no sense.)
The Bottom Line:
As much as Trainwreck uses the same rom-com formula as some of Apatow’s other movies, Schumer’s unique voice is allowed to thrive, offering plenty of laughs once you get past the mean-spirited nature of some of her humor.