By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
Director Judd Apatow tackled bro-mance and romance in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, unexpected offspring in Knocked Up, and marital woes in This is 40. Apatow’s newest comedy marks a return to romantic comedy, and as with most rom-coms, this one is told from a woman’s perspective. Only this time, the perspective is that of acerbic comic Amy Schumer. Based on real events in her life, Trainwreck examines the dating and romance experience of a woman who fears monogamy and sabotages any suitor’s attempts at it. Once again Apatow takes what could have been another tiresome cinematic cliche and reinvigorates it into something fresh and luminous. Schumer’s sardonic wit and exceptional comedic talent also takes romantic comedy to wildly hysterical territory.
Amy has job security working as a writer for a hip men’s magazine, but her social life often consists of booze-soaked trysts with strangers. A product of divorce and influenced by her chauvinist father (Colin Quinn), Amy has a fear of committed relationships, feels she would be happier without a boyfriend or husband, and can seriously do without offspring. However, when a work assignment introduces her to sports doctor Aaron Conners (Bill Hader), she becomes smitten with him. At the same time, this new foray into a normal relationship has her feeling all the most frightening emotions and insecurities that come with the early stages of love. Amy will have to get a grip on these fears if she is to maintain a romance with Aaron who definitely is a keeper.
Where to begin? I say this because there are so many things about this movie that I absolutely adored. Apatow and Schumer make an awesome team. These kindred comedic spirits have made another riotous comedy for Apatow, but one flavored with the infectious, smart alecky style of Schumer. When it comes to lampooning bad dating and sexual experiences, it is no holds barred. I’m sure this will turn off more conservative and reserved audience members, but Apatow’s and Schumer’s fans will laugh to the point of tears. The movie has an outstanding script that take rom-com tropes and kicks them in the ass.
This ambitious comedy has so much going on in it that Apatow and Schumer risked overloading it. Somehow, though, they manage to make most of the subplots and the development of various characters work nicely. My only complaint with the film has to do with a lame and not funny gag that pokes fun at art-house romance movies. I feel that this little tangent joke wastes time and distracts from all that works in the film and there is plenty that does.
Having now worked as a successful filmmaker, it seems like Judd Apatow can now cast whomever he wants in his films and this movie has an amazing list of acting credits in it. The list includes SNL alumni and celebrities from the sports world. Schumer proves herself as a leading woman and shines as the protagonist. Bill Hader plays it mostly straight, and does a great job as a sweet and disarming leading man. The film also stars Brie Larson as Amy’s sister Kim and Mike Birbiglia as Kim’s husband Tom. Vanessa Bayer, Ezra Miller, Randall Park, and Jon Glaser star as Amy’s hilarious co-workers. Trainwreck also can boast three standout comedic performances by Tilda Swinton, LeBron James, and John Cena. The Swinton performance is not so surprising, but the laughs I got out of the scenes featuring basketball star James and wrestler-turned-actor Cena had me and the audience howling in our seats.
So leave it to Judd Apatow and Amy Schumer to breathe new life into an otherwise platitudinous genre. The extraordinary humor, the genuine heartfelt moments, and superb cast have scored another winner for Apatow. Schumer, a comedic talent with a dedicated cult following, deserves to be acclaimed and well-known around the world. I would love to see her team up with Apatow again, or even some other brilliant comic director for another hysterical and exciting movie.