OP-ROB RATING: ALL-STAR
“Trainwreck”, the latest film from Judd Apatow, is the story of a woman who believes that monogamy isn’t realistic. This woman is Amy Townsend (Amy Schumer), she works as a writer for “s’nuff”, a trashy men’s magazine located in NYC; and what seems to be most nights she parties at bars and clubs, usually ending up in a random man’s bed. But don’t be fooled into thinking that Amy is being taken advantage of, because she is completely in control of her lifestyle. Her routine is this: get manageably drunk at the bar, go home with the sexiest guy, have whatever kind of sex feels right that night, and never ever sleep over once it’s done. For Amy, this works perfectly. She never has to call the guy again and she always gets exactly what she wants. All this seems to be very satisfying for Amy, that is until she meets Aaron Conners (Bill Hader), a sports medicine doctor, and her entire belief system is turned on its head.
“Trainwreck” is the first movie directed by Judd Apatow starring a female lead in Amy Schumer. Amy Schumer also wrote the screenplay, her first ever for a movie. For all those irregularities, “Trainwreck” doesn’t feel all that different from Apatow’s earlier films, “Knocked Up”, and “The 40-Year-Old Virgin”. Though it doesn’t break new barriers or rewrite the rules of comedy, the film is laugh-out-loud funny, incredibly vulgar, and in the end, very tender and thought provoking.
Amy Schumer takes on the all-important job towing the line between being funny and disgusting. “Trainwreck” is filled with everything from dirty tampon jokes to a scene where Schumer’s character describes fishing a marooned condom out of her vagina to a group of stunned housewives. Some of the more inappropriate scenes are a little uncomfortable to watch, but like all good comedies the punch line is frequently worth the pain. Bill Hader also delivers a great performance as the innocent and sincere sports medicine doctor. While I don’t completely understand his desire for the “trainwreck” of a human being that Schumer portrays, his body language and thoughtful dialogue in the film make it very convincing.
For the most part, Apatow focuses on developing the characters of Amy Townsend and Aaron Conners, however there are a slew of noteworthy supporting characters. Brie Larson plays Amy Townsend’s sister who has chosen a more responsible lifestyle by getting married and having a child. The scenes between the two sisters often feature tension and provide opportunities for Amy to mature and strive for resolution. An equally compelling foil is the Townsend’s father, Gordon (Colin Quinn). The opening scene of the film is actually dedicated to Mr. Townsend telling his children about why he and their mother are getting a divorce, ultimately leading to him explaining that monogamy isn’t realistic. The dynamic between Mr. Townsend and Amy is one if the most interesting parts of the movie. At s’nuff magazine, Tilda Swinton plays Amy’s eccentric boss who represents the corrosive personality that the early version of Amy is on the road to becoming.
Of all the best parts of “Trainwreck” one particular role stands out from the rest, this is LeBron James. In the film, LeBron plays a close friend of Dr. Conners and is featured in significant portion of the film. LeBron looks right at home on screen, and his scenes were by far the most enjoyable. In one hysterical scene LeBron and Dr. Conners discuss the difference between Cleveland and Miami, LeBron wryly states, “There is no difference.” While LeBron still has a quite a few years to play basketball, his performance in “Trainwreck” should afford him the opportunity to “take his talents” to the silver screen as a second career.
Despite the overall quality of the film, there are many scenes that seem unnecessary, and sometimes too obscene to have any positive effect. One particularly unfunny scene occurs when Amy goes home with a sixteen-year-old intern from her office. They have a strange sexual encounter that is gross, weird, and worst of all just not clever in any way. There are also many lewd quips delivered by Schumer that feel forced, and are often not at all amusing. Finding a balance in a raunchy comedy like “Trainwreck” must be incredibly challenging, however striking that perfect chord is vitally important to making an all-time-great. “Trainwreck” doesn’t quite make the leap, though it will find its place as an often revisited, hugely entertaining comedy that often has a sweeter side than the initial behavior of its main character might suggest.