A strong comedy

by Steve Pulaski

Amy (Amy Schumer) is a woman with a personal ideology I presume many women today have, which is put themselves before anyone else and get themselves on a successful path before worrying about a relationship. This self-sufficiency is commendable and a pleasant indication of how far gender roles have been subverted in the present, but Amy’s ideology is one of manipulation and selfishness. Working as a writer for a sensationalist rag, she spends most of her time hooking up with numerous men, not telling them all she wants is a one night stand. Furthermore, she always finds an excuse to leave in the morning, leaving her hookups clueless and used.

As one can imagine, massive confusion sets in not only when Amy is tasked to write an article on acclaimed athletic doctor Dr. Aaron Conners (Bill Harder), but starts to find herself in love with him. Aaron is simple, charming, and, most importantly, accepting of Amy’s undisciplined vices, be it excessive drinking, smoking, or having sex, be it by blissful ignorance or pure choice. On top of juggling this, Amy must take care of her aging father (Colin Quinn), who was the inspiration behind her mindset to forgo monogamy in favor for something with no commitment, as he hops from several nursing homes with the opposition being her sister (Brie Larson). Amy has always sided with her father and his decisions, whilst her sister condemns him for leaving her mom and not recognizing her stepchild as his grandson.

Amy’s contemptibility ostensibly brings down the quality of Judd Apatow’s Trainwreck, though that’s quite the contrary. Between Schumer’s biting, no-limits comic performance, her quip-heavy, fast-paced writing, and a strong supporting cast, Trainwreck works as a solid vehicle for Schumer’s talent in a mainstream setting.

Directed by
Judd Apatow
Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, Brie Larson
Release Date
17 July 2015
Steve’s Grade: B

To be fair, though, Schumer’s style of comedy isn’t anything new or groundbreaking. In a world where Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, and Melissa McCarthy have ditched the conventional, ladylike disposition for something racier and more crass, Schumer’s lengthy monologue about fishing a condom out of her crotch and her numerous sexual encounters is hardly a cinematic taboo anymore. Yet that doesn’t mean her comic energy isn’t something to discourage. Her ability to assimilate into numerous setups – a fine restaurant, a sports venue, a bar, etc – and flawlessly provide her quips and zingers is something that the most skilled comedians do with complete fluidity. The fact that she found that ability in herself at a young age shows her talent immediately.

The movie around her, however, doesn’t always function on a plane of which she’s worthy. Amy’s sorta-boyfriend in the film is a musclebound meathead played by John Cena, in an empty, seriously stupid role that does nothing for the film, and worst of all, doesn’t create any kind of character despite the amount of minutes wasted on him. Also, a needless distraction in the film is LeBron James in the worst kind of a role; a role that, again, provides no character and splices an instantly recognizable personality in settings you’d never expect. Therefore, you’re expected to laugh at anything and everything LeBron James says simply because he’s LeBron James; it’s lazy screenwriting.

However, this kind of laziness is remedied by great supporting performances by people like Bill Hader, who continues to be a surprisingly convincing comedic and dramatic presence, and Tilda Swinton (who reunites with co-star Ezra Miller from We Need to Talk About Kevin) as Amy’s demanding boss. Swinton dives in head first when it comes to playing a sassy and emotionally detached woman and she is one of the defining people to show that supporting characters in comedies have been greatly extended into almost primary forces in and of themselves.

Whilst Trainwreck deals with hookup culture, a culture I largely detest, it is sure to examine it from an angle that’s at least human and tender. It shows that even if you’re lost in life and uncertain of what path to take, manipulating and leaving people in the dark as to your intentions is a cruel and disrespectful thing (even if on some occurrences, Apatow tries to lean into the comedy realm with that). However, through all its shortcomings, Trainwreck is both a strong comedy and a strong comedic vehicle for almost everyone involved.