The comedic brilliance of female actresses is no secret to the industry. People like Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, even veterans like Lily Tomlin and Meryl Streep have demonstrated their comfort in a genre that is dominated by slapstick chubby guys and constant flushing bowel movements. Writer and performer Amy Schumer joins the élite list with her work in Judd Apatow’s “Trainwreck.” In the funniest film of the year so far, Schumer not only magnifies a hilarious performance with sharp, fearless writing, but successfully inserts beats of dramatic moments that both feel real and honest in today’s thirty-something generation.
“Trainwreck” tells the story of ‘Amy,’ (Schumer) a thirty-something journalist that has sworn off monogamy. Night after night, she indulges in alcohol, marijuana, and the frequent company of a man. Things change dramatically when she’s assigned to profile a sports doctor named Aaron (played by Bill Hader). Along with Aaron’s barrage of professional athlete friends and celebrities (LeBron James and Matthew Broderick to name a few), the journey of their very awkward and new relationship is put to the test, along with the influences of Amy’s sister Kim (played by Brie Larson) and ailing father Gordon (played by Colin Quinn).
This very well could be Judd Apatow‘s best movie ever. When he’s taken on raunchy comedies with heart (“The 40-Year-Old-Virgin”), magic tends to happen, especially in his lead actor’s portrayals of the characters. Since 2005’s hit-comedy, Apatow has come up short in many regards with films like “Knocked Up,” “Funny People,” and “This is 40.” All respectable in their own bodies but either overlong, overblown, or over zealous for its own liking. In “Trainwreck,” what normally feels like 30 minutes too much of on the nose direction and dialogue, only feels about 10 minutes. There’s the very apparent and typical Apatow hump felt in the middle of the film but the direction that the script takes, in allowing its central characters to exist and interact with other people within their world is refreshingly positive. Apatow has a handle on the story he wants to tell, allowing the location of New York to be a fluid, real presence, echoing at times something of a Woody Allen picture. It’s his single most impressive outing yet in the director’s chair.
The star through and through is actress and writer Amy Schumer. A staple of Comedy Central with her uproariously hilarious “Inside Amy Schumer,” the 33-year-old comedian fascinates in her vision of relationships and the pitfalls that come to them. Raw and honest, Schumer fixates on the male psyche from the female perspective, bringing to light the questions that constantly run through gender opposition and perception. Beyond the thematic elements captured, Schumer’s creation of magnificent supporting characters should be applauded by anyone who wants to be a screenwriter. Though it should be noted, some of the behaviors exhibited by them at times are a bit too far-fetched, even for a comedy such as this, but nonetheless, it works. As a matter of fact, in many instances, they steal the show. AMPAS writing branch, please don’t ignore.
LeBron James and John Cena in particular are comic gold. James’ stoic and vivacious expressions are things that people like Michael Strahan wish they could inhabit. He dives into a role, which is just himself, and turns it on its head in a real and ridiculous way. I loved him. John Cena’s sensitive and vibrant interpretation of a man desperate for a connection, is some of the film’s best moments. Every frame he shared was completely memorable. Please do more movies like this. As a matter of fact, can we get a “This is 40” spin-off of his character please?
Brie Larson adds a dramatic and serious element to the film that is sorely needed and shows once again that she’s a talent that is only getting better as the days pass. As Amy’s father, Colin Quinn’s dour yet whimsical outlook on life is a welcomed addition to the film. Tilda Swinton shines as the guttural and foul-mouthed Dianna while Vanessa Bayer has the time of her life as the ditsy and naive Nikki. We even get an amusing interaction with the clever Ezra Miller. Dare I say that is a wonderful candidate for the SAG Ensemble award? Damn right I will. An inspired and deserving choice this one would be.
As the love interest Aaron, Bill Hader, whose resume already sings with stints on “Saturday Night Live” and “The Skeleton Twins,” plays it pretty straight, and in many ways is the only believable character in the whole story. When everything around you is so outrageous, your normalcy can stick out like a sore thumb. However, Hader rises to the occasion with a thoughtful performance that will have many guys saying, “that’s me in my relationship.” Breaking news, Dude, it probably isn’t.
Mixed with a relationship intervention, a one-on-one basketball game, an S&M introduction, girl time on the toilet, and a dance sequence that the MTV Movie Awards would be stupid to omit from any lineup come next year, “Trainwreck” does most of the things it sets out to do, while invigorating and entrancing many of us into the world of Amy Schumer. It’s a great world to live in. Your move Golden Globes!
“Trainwreck” opens nationwide on Friday, July 17.