Known for her cutting satire and takedown of social norms, Amy Schumer enters the realm of film with her first true role in a movie. Leaving the things that made her famous at the door, Schumer instead leans on the tropes of the romantic comedy genre and curbs what we know about those movies in favor of a more Schumer-approved version that leaves us laughing and wanting more.
Trainwreck follows Amy as a hyper-realized version of herself and a budding journalist working for a New York City magazine. Her best friend is Nikki (Vanessa Bayer) and she enjoys the company of many men even though she is technically dating Steven (John Cena). This all changes after Steven dumps her and she begins work on an article about a sports surgeon named Aaron (Bill Hader) who she begins to have feelings for.
Schumer, who also wrote the script, understands what makes up a romantic comedy and knows what path she must follow in order to appease the genre. But, she also wants to take it on her own way, making her character the role that would usually be reserved for men (and vice versa for Hader’s character), which allows for a more of an inspection on the views of the modern woman rather than just another trope-filled romantic comedy.
What works so well with Trainwreck isn’t that the general path of the rom-com is adhered, but there is a mutual respect for the history of the genre and enough knowledge to know how to play along while bringing your own style to the game. Instead of deconstructing everything like she does with her show, Schumer instead plays along but gives it just enough bite to make you enjoy it and appreciate her innate sense for comedy.
It also helps to have a veteran director at the helm and Judd Apatow brings a guiding hand to the picture. It may be one of his better films because it never feels like Apatow is pushing the movie like some of his more recent films have felt like and that is because it is fully Schumer’s movie.
The comedy works though as much like Apatow’s previous work, Schumer has a strong sense of how dirty or vulgar she can go but still play along the lines of sentimental and just plain hilarious. It also helps that she has the help of actors such as Hader and Tilda Swinton (who plays her obnoxiously heinous boss) to help generate laughter as well as athletes such as LeBron James and John Cena playing off their perceived personas to the aid of the script (James asking Hader to split the bill was a highlight for me).
But it is Schumer who scores as the leading lady that can make us laugh and feel. Her inclusion of Colin Quinn as her father was able to generate enough sadness and sympathy to level the character that so desperately felt like she had to hold on to her independence in order to be happy. In the end, it was resolved in a cliche, romantic comedy way, but you loved her enough to forgive it and you didn’t mind because she made you laugh enough along the way.
Trainwreck is another link in a string of successful modern romantic comedies and may be even more impressive because it did it on a bigger scale than some of the recent hits for a genre that has had to go into the independent field. It is a perfect announcement for the talents of Amy Schumer, who is aided by veterans such as Bill Hader and Tilda Swinton in order to create a romance that is both funny and heartfelt and real.
The only gripe I may have is that it runs too long, but that is a tendency with Apatow that we have grown accustom to. Overall, the film generates enough laughs to come and is hopefully the first step in a long cinematic career for the comedian.