There are three kinds of trainwrecks. The first is a potentially tragic accident involving a train. The second is used as a euphemism for a person heading to an inevitably bad end. The third one is a strain of very good marijuana (so I have heard). Trainwreck embodies all three by delivering the comedic punch of a crashing train, the emotional devastation of watching the tragic downfall of a beloved person, and the heightened elation of self-discovery and understanding.
Amy Schumer plays a character so similar to herself that they didn’t even bother changing the first name. She has a moderate drinking problem, is a chronic non-monogamist, and is very focused on her career. Only one of these could actually be considered a problem, but her current boyfriend (John Cena) takes offense with the second one. Her sister, Kim (Brie Larson), seems to have her life in order like their mother did, but Amy seems to be closer to emulating her father (Colin Quinn), whom she idolizes. A chain reaction occurs when Amy’s very eccentric boss Dianna (Tilda Swinton) sends her to interview a physical therapist who works exclusively with professional sports players. Aaron (Bill Hader) is chronically single and his friends are hoping to change that. Luckily, one date/interview and LeBron intervention later, Aaron and Amy begin to fall for each other. Can someone who has never been in a completely monogamous stay in one? Probably not, but if they could, this movie would be much less interesting and hilarious.
Schumer has been built up to be an edgy comedic savant, and she has well earned that title in her Comedy Central show Inside Amy Schumer. She champions her progressively uncompromising social and political views through a mixture of sketch and stand-up routines. Its often racy and off-color nature is used as a reactionary response, shocking you into recognizing whatever idea or view she is trying to get across. This technique is beyond effective and usually hilarious. If you’re a fan of that specific style of humor, you may be disappointed to see how little of it is in Trainwreck. My guess would be that Schumer compromised her more risqué nature to make it more broad and palatable for the studios/masses.
That being said, this film is extremely funny and well written for a romantic comedy. Schumer brings her effortless charm and humor (both written and performance-wise) as the perfect counterpart to Hader’s naturally awkward charisma. In combination with a talented ensemble cast made up of great actors and some sports players, they are able to create a winning team. At the helm of everything is the talented Judd Apatow, who is no stranger to comedy. Apatow has proven he finally polished the formula for creating successful serious comedies. His previous attempts (This is 40 and Funny People) showed promise, but they were unbalanced. Trainwreck shows a deft hand in both the comedy and drama department, making each stand out as fully fleshed-out forms.
The story breaks most sweetheart conventions that rom-coms usually fall into. The characters are anything but one-dimensional, and their motivations are clear (at least, at first). There are no overly-sentimental moments with cheesy comedic tropes. Every emotion is genuine, every interaction is sincere (even the most ridiculous ones), and no situation ever feels forced or manipulative. There is a sort of deception at the beginning of the film. The character of Amy is shown as a happy, empowered woman who is interested in making sure her needs are met, as women’s sexual needs are often put on the back-burner by men. She has a boyfriend who she cares about, but he doesn’t completely satisfy her, so she makes her relationship an open one to get her emotional and physical needs met. This sounds like a topic Amy Schumer would champion, and a controversial one she could make masses understand, especially with the rising interest in open relationships. Unfortunately, just when you think Amy is going to make a positive case for open relationships, or even any other type of relationship outside of mainstream monogamy, she backpedals. Schumer gets back to conventional thinking when she all but demonizes anything outside of monogamy, having her problems stem from drinking, daddy issues, and multiple partners.
The only thing Trainwreck has in common with its name is that it is something you can’t turn away from. Amy Schumer, with the direction of Judd Apatow, creates a film that delivers riotous laughter with earnest drama, creating a new standard for rom-coms. Although it does break most of the romantic comedy conventions, its overarching theme proved more conventional than you would come to expect from Schumer.
RATING: ★★★★★★★★ (8/10 stars)