Comedy Film Review

'Trainwreck' Film Review: Amy Schumer's feature debut is a note-perfect combo of hilarity, heart and raunch

July 17, 2015Ben MK

With a hit Comedy Central TV series and a Peabody Award under her belt, Amy Schumer is a force to be reckoned with. Of course, it doesn't hurt that she's also one of the funniest women currently on the planet. And with the arrival of her raunchy new comedy, Trainwreck, millions of moviegoers are about to find out why.

In it, Schumer plays Amy Townsend, a commitment-phobic New York magazine writer who prefers to hit it and quit it, a personality trait instilled in her 23 years ago by her cranky, monogamy-hating dad, Gordon (Colin Quinn). Amy's level-headed younger sister, Kim (Brie Larson), on the other hand, has gone in the opposite direction. With a husband (Mike Birbiglia) and a growing family, she seems perfectly content being a suburban mom, a lifestyle Amy just can't understand the appeal of.

Enter Aaron Conners (Bill Hader), humanitarian and sports doctor to superstar athletes. When Amy, who despises sports in all its forms, is assigned to write a profile on Aaron by her taskmaster editor, Dianna (Tilda Swinton), her initial reaction is that it's the worst thing in the world. But as she starts researching her subject and begins to spend more and more time with him, her feelings quickly change. Earnest, sweet and, most importantly, dynamite in the sack, he's unlike most of the guys she's used to dating; so much so that Amy can't help wanting to leave behind her old ways and settle down.

Yep, in some ways, Trainwreck is just like every other romantic comedy you've ever seen. And yet, in other ways, it's totally different. And therein lies its charm — it'll absolutely meet your expectations, but at the same time it'll completely crush them on every level. In a good way, mind you.

A lot of that has to do with how Schumer and director Judd Apatow approach the film's gender role reversals. If you know Schumer from her show, Inside Amy Schumer, you'll know that she isn't the type to play the prototypical rom-com female lead. And she definitely stays true to form here, drinking, partying and toking up like nobody's business. In other words, she plays the role like a dude — with a high degree of lovable crassness, the kind that usually falls into the domain of one of Apatow's frequent muses, Seth Rogen.

Likewise, many of the male characters are played hilariously against type. WWE wrestler John Cena plays one of Amy's numerous sexual conquests, a walking "ice sculpture" named Steven who may or may not have homosexual tendencies and is beyond horrible at pillow talk. And LeBron James is fantastic in a small role as Aaron's best bud and confidante, playing a version of himself who sometimes acts like an overprotective dad and who displays unexpected concern for staying up-to-date with the latest season of Downton Abbey.

The rest of the movie's ensemble cast are great as well. Several past and present Saturday Night Live cast members, from Vanessa Bayer to Tim Meadows and Leslie Jones, pop up in various small roles. Ezra Miller (who some might recognize as the DC Movie Universe's new Flash) is an intern so unassuming that you just know he's hiding a weird sexual fetish. And Randall Park, best known for playing Kim Jong-un in The Interview, is one of Amy's downtrodden work colleagues. Then there are the many cameos by comics and Inside Amy Schumer regulars like Dave Attell and Bridget Everett, and by sports figures like Marv Albert, Chris Evert and Amar'e Stoudemire, all of whom make sure to get in their requisite chuckle or two.

Otherwise, Trainwreck delivers exactly what you might expect from an Apatow production. With a ton of laugh-out-loud moments, a smattering of gross-out jokes, and plenty of room for comedic improvisation, it's one of the director's funniest films to date. But — as per the standard Apatow boilerplate — it's also got a lot of heart, arising mainly out of a storyline that has Amy struggling to see eye-to-eye with her sister, while their father, suffering from multiple sclerosis, is shipped off to an assisted-living facility.

It's no surprise that Schumer nails the comedic aspects of the movie, but she does equally well at these meaty little dramatic bits as well, giving Trainwreck that all-important extra "oomph" in the emotional resonance department, and keeping the project from devolving into farce by the time the third act rolls around. After all, this is her movie. She wrote it. She produced it. And you can tell that she's put 110% of herself into it. The end result is a movie that's far from what its title implies. If anything, the Amy Schumer train is only now just pulling out of the station, and everyone should want to be on-board.

Trainwreck releases July 17th, 2015 from Universal Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of R for strong sexual content, nudity, language and some drug use. Its runtime is 2 Hrs. 5 Mins.

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