MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Trainwreck’ Cruises With Help From Amy Schumer

Trainwreck-Review

Film: Trainwreck
Directed by: Judd Apatow
Starring: Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, Brie Larson, Lebron James

Judd Apatow’s directorial features have been losing their comedic luster as of late, trading in laughs for more commonplace and conventional themes of parenthood and mid-life crises with This is 40 and Funny People. With Trainwreck, it’s like his spitfire hangout kind of humor has been revived by way of his new muse, comedienne Amy Schumer. Ripping from events in her own life, the film properly emulates the societal pressures put upon women in regards to staying monogamous while splicing through the kind of explicit sex humor that Schumer can’t put into her Comedy Central show weekly. Though the film sometimes dips too hard into a love story towards the final act, Apatow always has a knack for making that kind of orthodox fare easy to swallow and never overly-saccharine.

Amy (Schumer) is a workaday woman in her 30s who works at a men’s magazine. She’s the kind of woman who is a commitment-phobic and has a set of rules that she abides by so that she doesn’t get tied down. When she meets Aaron (Bill Hader)–a nerdy sports physician–there’s a constant back and forth in her mind about whether or not she wants to change her life for him. Amy’s father, Gordon (Colin Quinn), also suffers from multiple sclerosis and that takes a toll on her and her sister, Kim (Brie Larson).

Betwixt the laugh-a-minute jokes is something much deeper. In a part of the film, we see Amy and her then beau, Steven (John Cena), watching a fake movie depicting a dog walker (Daniel Radcliffe) and a woman with a dog falling in love to an incredibly sappy degree. To a point, Trainwreck parodies that kind of slop that used to run rampant through theaters everywhere. You know, the kind of movie that thinks sincerity is reciting lines like “I’ve always loved you” with the kind of diction that soap operas require. Although Schumer and Hader never fall into that territory, their falling out of love brought on by the former’s industrious and hard-partying lifestyle never feels forced and hits the right emotional chords with the utmost sincerity. Trainwreck isn’t about making a joke of warring lifestyles and societal norms, but it definitely has fun in exploiting the comedy that can become of such things.

Schumer’s Amy pokes fun at the kinds of things that are supposedly against her code like getting married, having kids and settling into a suburban lifestyle. Kim and her husband, Tom (Mike Birbiglia), are the opposite side of the life spectrum than Amy. They have a child and enjoy the family life. Amy’s life has always been led by the frat-boyish kind of profundity that her sick father, Gordon, offers up though. When a kerfuffle is caused by Kim’s increasing disdain for her father, Trainwreck starts becoming a film about being open to other things than what you’ve been taught. Sure, that sounds kind of corny but Apatow delivers the message amidst a bunch of referential pop culture jokes and cameos from celebrity comedians and athletes. From someone who doesn’t watch many sports, you’ll be able to see Lebron James flex his other underdeveloped muscle (comedy) in full force.

If there were one major complaint with Trainwreck, it would be about not having enough screen time for each comedic performance to shine. SNL cast member Vanessa Bayer doesn’t get nearly enough room to grow as Nikki, Amy’s friend and under-appreciated, ditzy coworker. Bill Hader steals the show most of the time though. The man is crazy good at going from blunt comedy to heady drama at the flick of a switch. For more context supporting this theory, watch him in 2014’s The Skeleton Twins.

If Apatow’s thing is to better dramatic scenarios about everyday life with comedic levity, whether that be situations like parenthood and identity crises, then Trainwreck may be his most successful effort at getting that job done. In other news, if Amy Schumer making sex jokes could be inserted into every run-of-the-mill comedy today, that’d be great.

GRADE: B

Review written by Sam Cohen (follow him on Twitter!)

Sam Cohen

Sam Cohen is that guy you can't have a conversation with without bringing up Michael Mann. He is also incapable of separating himself from his teenage angst (looking at you, Yellowcard). Read on as he tries to formulate words about movies!
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