TRAINWRECK (Judd Apatow, 2015)
Opens Friday, July 17
Amy Schumer’s meteoric rise continues with Trainwreck, and this semiautobiographical, raunchy romantic comedy should certainly not derail this New York native’s ascent. Schumer, who first broke through to national attention on Comedy Central’s roast of Charlie Sheen, then won a prestigious Peabody Award for her extremely clever and insightful cable series, Inside Amy Schumer, wrote and stars in Trainwreck, playing Amy, a magazine writer who prefers drinking and quick sex to cuddling and sleepovers. Once the deed is done, either she or the dude is gone, and she continues on with her supposedly happy life, which includes her sister, Kim (Brie Larson), who has had the gall to go all suburban mom and housewife on her; her philandering father, Gordon (Colin Quinn), a Mets fanatic who is suffering from MS; and her boss at S’Nuff, Dianna (an unrecognizable Tilda Swinton), a sassy Brit with no time for melodrama. Fortunately, through most of the film, director Judd Apatow eschews the melodrama as well, until he lets it all cave in with closing scenes that undo nearly everything that has been built up before. Thankfully, however, most of what happens before is as smart and funny as it is outrageous and perceptive. Amy is assigned a story on Dr. Aaron Conners (Bill Hader), a sports specialist whose best friend is LeBron James, who is a blast playing himself as a deeply sensitive, extremely cost-conscious man. Amy has to reevaluate her world view when she starts falling for Aaron, going against everything she believes in by dating a nice guy who just might really care about her.
The film starts unraveling once Aaron begins treating Amar’e Stoudemire, who is a Knick in the film but since has gone on to play for Dallas and then sign with Miami, and ends with a cringe-worthy scene in Madison Square Garden. However, by then Schumer has already won you over with her ribald appeal over the course of numerous hysterical vignettes that are not quite as surreal as those on her Comedy Central show but are just as perceptive and tongue-in-cheek, skewering everything in her path, from love and romance to sexism and misogyny, doing the kinds of things men usually do in such movies, including those written, directed, and/or produced by Apatow (The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, This Is 40). Professional wrestling champ John Cena nearly steals the show as Amy’s boyfriend who gets into an unforgettable argument with a guy (comic Keith Robinson) in a movie theater, an improvised scene that might make you choke on your popcorn. And King James rules with surprising chops when dishing lovelorn advice to Aaron. Many of the smaller roles are played by yet more comics; be on the lookout for Dave Attell, Vanessa Bayer, Jon Glaser, Tim Meadows, Jim Norton, and Bridget Everett, among others. Yes, that’s Method Man as Amy’s father’s caretaker, while ninety-nine-year-old Norman Lloyd, a veteran of Hitchcock, Welles, and St. Elsewhere, is her dad’s hospice pal, and the two people in the mock dogwalker movie are indeed Daniel Radcliffe and Marisa Tomei. But the stunt casting eventually gets burdensome, especially when Chris Evert, Matthew Broderick, and Marv Albert show up, as well as the Knicks City Dancers. It’s as if Schumer and Apatow didn’t have enough faith in their central story and had to fill it up with lots of silly fluff, which is a shame, because Schumer and Hader have a winning, infectious chemistry, and the film’s unfortunate plot turns ultimately undo much of what Schumer had accomplished as a woman in a man’s world, as writer and actor. But that shouldn’t slow down this express train of a talent.