You want to hear something kind of twisted?
There's something about Amy Schumer that reminds me of my family doctor. I'm not kidding. Schumer, a stand-up comic whose biggest claim to fame up to now has been for her stellar sketch comedy on Inside Amy Schumer, isn't quite a dead ringer for my family doctor but they have remarkably similar looks, similar facial expressions, a similar low-key line delivery, and every time I say something particularly stupid my doctor does that same eye roll that Schumer does during sex, during drinks, during interviews, and anytime anyone approaches the nearly impossible task of getting to know her.
Yeah, it was freaky.
Schumer's the kind of woman we all know. We've all got one Amy Schumer in our life, or at least we do if we're lucky. She's bold. She's confident. She's sexual. She's pretty fucked up. She's hilarious. She's actually pretty damn sweet. She's smart as hell. She doesn't really give a rat's ass if she fits the Hollywood definition of beauty which is, let's be honest, a pretty messed up definition of beauty.
Trainwreck is Schumer or, at the very least, it's a film Schumer wrote based upon her own life experiences. You might love it. You might hate it. You might laugh even if you hate it. I laughed. A lot. Heck, a couple times I found myself wondering "Does my doctor know Amy Schumer and does she think she looks like Amy Schumer?"
Yeah, that's a pretty messed up thing to think about during a movie while you're watching pro wrestler John Cena's rather self-absorbed attempts at talking dirty while bare-cheeked on top of Schumer.
Schumer kind of reminds me of the girl next door, though she's the girl next door you actually got to fuck and then she broke your heart when she turned around and fucked your brother. And your dad. Maybe your mother.
We learn early on in the film where she likely picked it all up from when her dad, played with typical cranky brilliance by Colin Quinn, lectures his two pre-teen girls on the impossibility of monogamy by posing the question "What if I told you there was only one doll you could play with forever?"
Not surprisingly, the parents divorced and Amy has grown up to be a proud member of the Fuck-of-theDay club made possible by a penchant for drinking herself into oblivion and shagging everyone she meets. She is, however, a semi-successful writer for a men's magazine, S'Nuff, run by Tilda Swinton as Diana, a misogynistic boss whose idea of quality journalism involves articles like "You call those breasts?" With a gleam in her eyes, Dianna assigns the sports hating Amy an article about Dr. Aaron Conners (Bill Hader), a local knee surgeon and famed physician to famous athletes like Lebron James, Amar'e Stoudemire and others.
Of course, we all know where this goes.
Trainwreck isn't your usual Hollywood romantic comedy drivel. Oh sure, it's romantic. Oh sure, it's funny. It's also occasionally dramatic and sweet and sarcastic. Like most romance, it's also occasionally cloying and annoying and destroying or just plain boring.
The thing is it's real or, maybe better stated, it's a weird comical exaggeration of real. Trainwreck occasionally reminds me of that tremendously underrated gem from a few years back called Pumpkin, a film that dared to propose the idea that a sorority chick, played by Christina Ricci, might actually find a guy with a disability, played by Hank Harris, completely fuckable.
Hey, trust me. I'm an adult with a disability. It's weird, but it happens.
The coupling between Schumer's Amy and Hader's Aaron is never completely believable because, in my estimation, Schumer kind of views the entire idea of love as never completely believable. It's probably worth nothing that not long after she wrote this script she and the guy that Aaron is based on actually broke up.
It kind of figures, doesn't it?
Trainwreck may not necessarily land effectively in the realm of feminist cinema, which may disappoint some of her fans and defenders, but it's still a bold and brave performance that is both humorous and tinged with a touching yet always kept distant sincerity. You can't help loving Amy, though you're always aware that you don't really know her.
As always seems to be true for an Apatow directed film, Trainwreck plays a bit too long and could have easily let go of some of the extraneous characters. While Amy's scenes in the office of S'Nuff are funny, only her best bud, played by SNL's Vanessa Bayer, and Ezra Miller's turn as a way off-kilter intern are really essential here along with Swinton's almost unrecognizable turn as Dianna.
How does Swinton keep churning out such immersive performances?
There's also an ongoing bit about a black-and-white flick starring Daniel Radcliffe and Marisa Tomei that never quite gels and doesn't seem to contribute what Schumer likely intended for it. While it serves up a few celebrity cameos, it's an easily tossed aside distraction.
These are minor quibbles, though. There's something dark and inspired and authentic about Schumer's performance here, a performance where she's willing to be seen as real, fucking real. She's not a particularly kind woman, yet she loves. You get the feeling that everything she says about her dad in one particular scene are things that will be said about her one day.
Yeah, for sure, she's her father's daughter. She's also frequently and hilariously at odds with her more sensitive sister, played to perfection by Brie Larson, an under-appreciated actress who makes everything better. She's married, to an under-utilized Mike Birbiglia, and step-mother to an almost stereotypically nerdish Allister (Evan Brinkman).
Oh, and in case you're wondering, Lebron can actually deliver one-liners and, maybe even more surprisingly, project a little sincerity along the way. Shaq he isn't.
Trainwreck is the first film Apatow has directed without having his name on the screenplay, though the Apatow style and cinematic sensibility is all over the place. Surprisingly, these two make a pretty good team but it would have been nice to have seen a little bit more of Schumer's social conscience rise to the surface of the film. That said, Trainwreck is an entertaining and emotionally honest film that comes from a comic, writer and actress who has proven herself to be willing to share both her brilliance and her bullshit with equal transparency. While one might argue that the need to at least somewhat neatly wrap things up is a bit more Apatow than Schumer, it's a minor and earned transgression for for an otherwise beautiful wreck of a film.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic