The tagline for Trainwreck claims “We all know one,” but Amy Schumer’s boisterous leading debut succeeds not because we see our “trainwreck” friends in her performance. Whether you’ll admit it or not, we instead see ourselves in the shoes of Amy, because we’ve ALL experienced that period where no f#*ks are to be given. You’re damn right to assume “we all know one” – we all own mirrors. But it’s OK to be a trainwreck, and that’s the journey that this floozy-on-steriods is here to teach us.
I don’t know about you, but being a strapping young lad living in New York City has taught me a thing or two about the current dating landscape, and a lot of Schumer’s on-screen defense mechanisms/paranoias are commonplace in today’s day and age. Relationships are scary in the city, where a smorgasbord of the opposite sex are offered up on a daily basis. It’s also far too easy to become obsessed with personal goals that take the place of romantic fulfillment (says the film-critic-by-night). This is what Trainwreck understands, and (thankfully) refuses to sugarcoat. Schumer’s straight-shooting script is both brave and satirical, and works wonders to blend emotional outbursts with raunchy, hearty comedy – a refreshing side of Amy that Comedy Central doesn’t show nearly enough of.
Amy Schumer stars as a “fictional” character named Amy, who finds herself in a constant rotation of drunken one-night stands thanks to her father’s promise that monogamy is unrealistic. By staying focused on her journalism career, Amy finds it easy to remain completely unattached to every man who walks through her door, until she’s assigned the interview of a lifetime. He’s no superstar, but sports physician Dr. Aaron Conners (Bill Hader) wins Amy over with his sweet sensibilities and charming maturity – unless her survival instincts have anything to say about it. Amy fights Aaron’s advances, albeit briefly, but after giving in, finds that monogamy might not be such a bad gig. Now if she could only prevent her own self-sabotage…
Life is essentially the darkest of comedies, and Schumer’s own honest admittance is what drives the raw, exposed core of Trainwreck. This inner strife is what Judd Apatow movies are all about, because while (fictional) Amy’s first desire is to make us laugh, her interactions are also genuine. Scary, narcissistic, selfish, hurtful, abrasive – but genuine. Apatow benefits from simply directing this romantically-stunted comedy, letting Schumer’s new voice shine through, but at the same time, it feels like the good old Judd is getting his mojo back (This Is 40 was a challenge, Funny People even more so). Schumer and Apatow are, essentially, a comedic Lebron James and Dwayne Wade.
Oh, and speaking of Lebron James, WHAT THE HELL CAN’T THIS MAN DO. Serving as Bill Hader’s sidekick, James plays a version of himself that we all hope he acts like in real life. He’s funny, and in basketball terms, dishes out assists to Hader and Schumer like a comedy pro. He’s not alone either – Marv Albert lends his iconic voice in a completely inappropriate way, Amar’e Stoudemire shows up as a comical patient, and John Cena exposes a softer side that’s hidden beneath his unbelievably muscle-bound figure (seriously, is he just a walking statue?). These are the surprise rookies who score some All-Pro laughs, while veterans like Mike Birbiglia, Method Man, Jon Glaser, and many more unsung comedians comprise a cast that’s perfectly grounded and quirky enough to live in a Judd Apatow universe.
You’re not here to see Lebron James, though. OK, maybe a little bit, but still – Trainwreck is built on the chemistry between Amy Schumer and Bill Hader. Hader is one of the most likable leading men in Hollywood (for my two cents), and Schumer asserts herself as a Queen of Comedy who can also sport a drastic range of emotion given darker situations. Their constant power struggle runs a realistic gauntlet of highs and lows that plague many young couples, especially those with commitment issues, but Hader’s yin to Schumer’s combative yang makes for a sincere, sweet love. The kind of love that makes the most hopeless Sex And The City impersonator dream about their Prince Charming. In a way, Trainwreck is a modern-day take on medieval tales of armor-clad knights who ride in on white, glistening steeds, ready to save any damsel from their trapped fate. Except, in this case, the screeching princess is ALSO the fire-breathing dragon.
At its core, Schumer’s story is about what we deserve. It’s easy to hide behind a wall of cynicism, especially when your dad (played by Colin Quinn in this case) tells you monogamy is dead (because he’s a cheating bastard), but all the alcohol, weed and random sex only create an emptier hole inside. Pushing people away is easy, not accepting love’s fragility is safe, and reducing your own self-worth lowers expectations – yet life is nothing without someone special to share it with. The transformation that takes place, starting with Amy’s “Titanic” moment aboard a Staten Island ferry, is charged with an empowering sense of personal growth, along with her ability to become more and more vulnerable. We can’t truly love until we let another’s love into our lives, and while that’s scary, Schumer addresses how to tackle those irrational fears head-on (a journey seasoned with raunchy hilarity and free-falling romanticism).
In one single movie, Amy Schumer elevates herself from being a sketch-show maven to a bonafide comedy Queen – and this is coming from someone who doesn’t really care for Inside Amy Schumer. Ironically, Trainwreck lets us far deeper into Amy Schumer than her show ever does, and it’s that brutally honest energy that Apatow feeds off of as a filmmaker. There’s nothing better than a mainstream comedy with soul, and that’s what you’ll be getting with Trainwreck – heart and soul. Plus an admirable amount of crude sex jokes, Schumer’s confident sexuality and a Tilda Swinton performance for the ages. I’m not saying it’s the best comedy of 2015, but I am saying there’s a good chance that it will be. And you can quote me on that.
Trainwreck is funny, emotional and honest, which is everything we ask our mainstream comedies to be - yet this is the first one to deliver the total package in a very long time.