“I’m just a modern chick, who does what she wants.”
I have to say, I wasn’t thrilled by the trailers for Amy Schumer’s debut film Trainwreck. You see, years of being a fan of Schumer, coupled with my love of Apatow’s HBO series GIRLS, had me expecting something in the vein of the two – a kind of new anti-rom-com, with dirt, raunch, and realism. So when the first trailer dropped, and it essentially looked like every other Hollywood rom-com, I was kind of bummed. Had Amy Schumer been assimilated into the horde of cinema mindlessness that’s become the norm of the genre?
The answer is no. Amy Schumer has done much more difficult than my stupid idea of creating an anti-rom-com, instead she has written, starred, and produced the best romantic comedy I’ve ever seen. Trainwreck is somewhat of an awakening for the genre, proof that if originality and energy to this genre that is formulaic by nature, then it can be good. Not to mention pretty god damn hilarious.
Schumer plays Amy, a journalist at a fictional NY magazine called S’NUFF, which is essentially a stand in for GQ or Esquire. She is given the assignment to cover a rising star doctor in the world of sports medicine named Aaron (Bill Hader). The two hit it off, causing Amy’s entire “monogamy isn’t realistic” world-view to crumble.
I really never doubted that Trainwreck would be funny. Schumer is a comedic genius, part of a sort of degenerate rat-pack of New York comedians who are almost all featured in the film. Colin Quinn is the standout performance of the group, as Schumer’s father. He’s funny in this role, but also very grounded in it – never once feeling like Amy’s comedian friend who got the part, instead nailing it so hard that I can’t imagine anyone else in the role.
Schumer and Hader kill it; their chemistry is infectious, resulting in almost non-stop laughs at even the minutest of jokes. Hader plays Aaron with the most restrain I’ve ever seen him display, allowing Schumer to remain the film’s comedic center. They are both very funny people, but a romantic comedy requires a mixture of believable romance – thankfully they feel like two people genuinely in love with one another.
I was surprised by how emotional certain scenes got. Schumer has written one of the most charming and tear-wrenching funeral scenes I’ve seen in a long time. And while she is known for her over the top raunchy views on sex – the second half of the movie kicks that to the curb, and centers heavily on themes of family and love, something I was not expecting at all.
Judd Apatow directed Trainwreck, but you can’t really ever tell. The emphasis on domestic realism that define Apatow’s most recent films This is 40 and Funny People are completely absent from Trainwreck. So while Trainwreck is the best Judd Apatow movie I’ve ever seen, it doesn’t ever feel like a Judd Apatow movie.
Trainwreck also boasts a fantastic supporting cast, with every single supporting role flawlessly casted. Tilda Swinton appears in another “oh my god that’s Tilda Swinton?” role, as Amy’s ruthless and detached Editor-in-Chief. The always wonderful Brie Larson plays Amy’s sister, as the foil to the promiscuous alcohol-driven Amy. The celebrity casting both works and doesn’t. As distracting as I thought Lebron James would be, he actually adds an odd charm to the film. However, John Cena is way too distracting, and the film benefits from an early disposal of his character.
Trainwreck is funny, clever, biting, raunchy, raw, emotional and even a bit sappy. And isn’t that exactly what we want a romantic comedy to be?