Trainwreck – A Review


Right now, Amy Schumer is having a moment. She’s currently on the cover of GQ magazine, her very smart and funny Comedy Central sketch show, Inside Amy Schumer, received some well-deserved Emmy nominations and for the second year in a row she is, for all intents and purposes, co-headlining the Oddball Comedy Tour. And today, Trainwreck – a movie she wrote and stars in – hits theaters nationwide.

I, for one, couldn’t be happier; I’ve been an Amy Schumer fan for a long time now and it makes me very happy to see her finally getting the exposure and recognition that I’ve always thought that she deserved. I have been looking forward to seeing Trainwreck since I heard about the project; I was especially excited to hear that Judd Apatow was directing, since he has a solid track record lately of working with smart and funny women. I dare say that of all the summer movies that are coming out in 2015, Trainwreck was the one that I anticipated the most. Not Avengers: The Age of Ultron. Not Jurassic World. For me, this was the summer of Schumer.

In retrospect, putting that much pressure on a comedy was grossly unfair to Trainwreck – even though this was a very solid and funny movie, there was no way that it could live up to my lofty expectations. So even though I really enjoyed Trainwreck and laughed a lot, I was a little bummed that it wasn’t the life changing experience that it never claimed to be but that I hoped for. But one thing I cannot be disappointed by is that I believe that all the prognosticators were right – this movie will make Amy Schumer, in the words of Dirk Diggler, “a big bright shining star.”

Trainwreck is a romantic comedy that follows fictional Amy and her love life. Indoctrinated at a young age by her father (Colin Quinn) that monogamy isn’t realistic, Amy’s life is primarily a series of one-night stands where she never sleeps over and is the one who makes sure the relationship doesn’t progress any further. She also has a quasi-steady guy in her life (WWE’s John Cena) who she doesn’t consider her boyfriend, but does actually go out on dates with. Amy’s perfectly happy with this arrangement and her life in general; she does not want the life that her sister (Brie Larson) has – married with a step-child. When she’s assigned to write a profile on sports doctor Aaron Connors (Bill Hader), it’s not all that surprising that she sleeps with him. It is surprising that she starts to fall in love with him. Does Amy really want a relationship and if so, is she equipped to be in one?

If you cut through all the hilarious jokes and curse words, at its heart Trainwreck is much closer to a traditional romantic comedy than you would think. Schumer is not necessarily breaking completely new ground here, but she is certainly playing with the formula a bit. Trainwreck is not nearly as subversive as I had anticipated, but considering I’m pretty firmly in the anit-rom com camp, I was pretty charmed by Trainwreck and far more invested in this couple being together than I have been in some of my real life relationships – an assertion which either says a lot about this movie or a lot about the guys I go out with. But just because Trainwreck is a more old-fashioned romantic comedy than I expected doesn’t mean that it’s old-fashioned; the trademark Schumer raunchiness and sass is definitely alive and well in this movie and the audience I saw it with was eating it up with a spoon. There was plenty of laughter during Trainwreck and I was an enthusiastic participant.

It helps that Schumer and Hader really have great chemistry in this movie; I thought it was an interesting pairing when I heard the casting announcement, but they work really well together and create two realistic and relatable characters. You believe that they would be interested in each other, even though they are two very different people. Schumer does just fine in her first leading comedic role and Hader is pretty much always solid in whatever he’s in. Both actors are incredibly likable, even when behaving badly. They complement each other nicely, both romantically and comically. If you’re not buying the couple at the center of a romantic comedy, the rest of the film is kind of for naught, but they easily sidestepped that problem in Trainwreck.

The strong supporting cast all also bring their A-game to this film, despite the fact that a lot of the people features are more known for their work in other genres other than film acting. Comic Dave Attell is always funny as the homeless guy that lives outside Amy’s apartment and Colin Quinn has fun playing Amy’s dad. I don’t know that I ever would have assumed that John Cena is funny, but he is pretty amusing in his role (and will also appear in the upcoming Amy Poehler/Tina Fey movie Sisters). There are lots of cameos in the film that I won’t spoil, but that generally work. But I have to say, the person who almost succeeds in stealing Trainwreck is none other than LeBron James. If the whole basketball thing doesn’t work out for King James, he could have a future in comedy. He was legitimately hysterical and if I had one major complain about Trainwreck it was that there wasn’t more of LeBron. He killed it. Amar’e Stoudemire holds his own as well, but this is the LeBron James show. It’s worth seeing Trainwreck just to see him in action. He can deliver a joke and do physical

For a first-time screenwriting effort, Amy Schumer hits more than she misses. Trainwreck is a little uneven – there are some jokes that just don’t land at all (especially the stuff at her office) – but the overall product is very funny. Schumer has a distinct perspective and voice and that comes through in Trainwreck. If you are familiar with her comedy, despite the rom-com trappings the film will feel like “authentic” Schumer. Trainwreck was a more than promising first attempt; I look forward to seeing what Schumer is capable of with just a little more experience under her belt. Her sketch show demonstrates that she is a fabulous writer, but the adjustment from short sketches and punchlines to full length movie isn’t necessarily a seamless one. But despite the occasional off-note, Trainwreck is an indication of truly great things to come.

Some other thoughts:

  • I was very excited by one of the cameos in Trainwreck; I didn’t know that this person was going to be in the movie and I was delighted when he showed up as he is one of my favorites.
  • Fun fact – Amy Schumer actually dated a professional wrestler (Dolph Ziggler) in real life, who one would assume the John Cena character is at least somewhat based on.
  • Any movie where a Billy Joel song is featured prominently is A-OK in my book.
  • If you are not watching Inside Amy Schumer, do yourself a favor and start. She’s doing some spectacular stuff on there. She devoted an entire episode of a parody of 12 Angry Men, where she was on trial for not being hot enough to be on TV. It was brilliant – insightful and hilarious at the same time.
  • Based on some of the jokes, I’m guessing A-Rod isn’t going to be a huge fan of this movie.
  • Those that are well-versed in Schumer’s stand-up will recognize a scene at a baby shower from her earlier routines. One of Variety’s comics to watch, Bridget Everett, appears in that scene.

Trainwreck is a very funny movie that isn’t perfect, but delivers on the laughs. Amy Schumer should be very proud of all her hard work on this movie, both on-screen and off, as this film is a more than solid first entry on her filmmaking resume. Lots of raucous laughs, great interplay with co-star Hader and a surprisingly strong comedic performance by LeBron James are enough to make up for the occasional joke that just doesn’t work. I don’t know that Trainwreck will be my movie of the summer, but it was definitely a lot of fun. I can’t wait to see what Schumer will do next; Trainwreck is a harbinger of very good things to come.

Trainwreck opens nationwide today.

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