Judd Apatow can be viewed as the George Lucas of comedy. He has directed highly lucrative movies, however it could be argued that his best efforts have come when he is on producing and writing duties. On recent efforts Funny People and This is 40, he served as writer, director and producer. Both films were met with lukewarm responses while Bridesmaids and Begin Again (which he produced) received critical acclaim. Trainwreck finds Apatow directing someone else’s script for the first time. Although he shares a producing nod with Barry Mendel, Amy Schumer is credited as sole writer. Will less responsibility help Apatow focus?
As children Amy and her sister Kim received an interesting pep talk from their Father, Gordon (Colin Quinn). Monogamy isn’t realistic. Fast forward 23 years and Kim (Brie Larson) is married with a step-son. She’s happy and appears to be the antithesis of her Dad. Amy (Amy Schumer) on the other hand has embraced this mantra with a vengeance. Her lifestyle revolves around getting wasted and casual encounters with the opposite sex; the party is 24/7 with Amy despite being in a relationship with the musclebound Steven (John Cena). While working for lad’s magazine S’nuff, she is told to do an article on renowned sports doctor Aaron Connors (Bill Hader). The closer Amy gets to her subject the more they start to fall for each other. Can Amy change her ways or, more importantly, does she even want to?
Written by Schumer, Trainwreck keeps the classic Judd Apatow traits for its faults as well as its strengths. The film is packed with pop-culture references and crude humour, which misses the mark as often as it evokes a laugh. At over 2 hours it’s also 20 to 30 minutes too long, another familiar attribute. While Apatow looks to add depth by focusing on Kim and Gordon, the film wouldn’t have suffered from the subplots being trimmed or even omitted from the final cut.
Schumer and Conners are great in their roles however it’s the guest stars that steal the show. Tilda Swinton is brilliant and unrecognisable as Amy’s hateful boss while WWE superstar Cena is perfect as the sensitive and gentle giant. The funniest scenes are reserved for Lebron James (as himself) who excels in his character while making fun of his celebrity status. His dead pan delivery is excellent as is his chemistry with Hader.
Apatow and Schumer should be commended by the way they switch the stereotypes of gender, most notably with Steven and James. Both men are stereotypical tropes but they’re templates that are usually reserved for women in romantic comedies They are manly masculine athletes in real life which helps portray the message while erring on the right side of absurdity.
The director and writer don’t invite the audience to judge Amy, neither do they attempt to lecture on the role of feminism within modern Hollywood films. That’s not to say there isn’t an underlying subtext, but it isn’t what the film is about. It’s a comedy first and foremost. What may disappoint is that the film descends into a cheesy chick-flick by the third act with a sugary schmaltzy ending to round things off. Alt rom-coms such as Chasing Amy and Don Jon avoided this pitfall while Trainwreck dives in headfirst and doesn’t make any apologies. This is apt for a film that swaggers through each scene without one fuck being given.
Trainwreck may not be as trendy as it wants to be, but when you get past the too cool for school demeanour it’s a humorous love story that offers a fresh spin on a tired genre. At least for the most part.