If you’re not familiar with Amy Schumer at this point, you’re doing a good job of avoiding social media and pop culture in general – congrats on that, you’re probably happier. Amy is a stand-up comedian, who has rapidly moved to the forefront due to her smart, funny, and very adult comedy central show – Inside Amy Schumer (warning - below clip is uncensored!) :)
Judd Apatow is the writer/director of multiple comedies, starting with the TV show Freaks and Geeks, then 40-Year Old Virgin, Knocked UP, Funny People, and This is 40. After hearing an interview with Amy Schumer, he was inspired by her stories about dealing with her dad’s illness, and asked to work with her. The result is Trainwreck – a movie that Amy wrote and Apatow directed that is sort-of semi-autobiographical.
Schumer stars as Amy, a woman who has believed from 9 years old that monogamy is not realistic, thanks to being told that directly by her cheating father as he and her mother split. Amy took that sentence to heart, and is currently living as the titular ‘trainwreck’. She has a great job and apartment in New York City, but rarely sleeps with the same guy twice, and seems to be working through most of the men in New York, believing that relationships are for suckers. She’s working at a men’s magazine for a Devil-Wears-Prada-inspired boss and is suddenly given an assignment to interview a sports doctor who is about to pioneer a new knee surgery for NBA players. During the course of the interview, Amy spends the night with Aaron, the doctor, but starts to fall for him, which is new for her and she finds it confusing and off-putting while also trying to deal with her father’s failing health and her sister’s marriage, step-child, and impending pregnancy. Eventually – Amy has to come to grips with the fact that the way she was living was not actually all that great, and take steps to grow up and take responsibility for her actions.
I expected the movie to be funny, but what I didn’t expect was that it has a lot of heart, and quite a few genuinely touching moments. I have found in several previous Apatow movies that the female roles tend to be very one-dimensional. Perhaps because Schumer wrote this or perhaps due to the collaboration - this one does goes beyond that. In terms of direction, Apatow was good enough to let people do a lot of improvising, providing for a natural-ness between all the cast members.
- Amy does a great job playing an exaggerated version of herself, and I was a little afraid that the movie would glorify her ‘trainwreck’ life-style. However, the movie never really makes that mistake. The constant drinking and partying really causes problems and makes her look like a terrible person. I thought that was a smart choice. Especially once she begins to realize that she is pushing away all the people who really do care about her, and she decides to start making some changes. I was really impressed, and I hope she gets to do more movies…of course, we’ll have to see how she does playing a character that is not based on her!
- SNL vet Bill Hader plays Aaron Conner, the doctor that Amy has to interview. Hader is wonderful at over-the-top comedy, but he’s even better playing the quiet romantic that is this doctor. He’s swept up in Amy’s zaniness, and falls for her pretty quickly. I loved their interactions, and I was impressed by his ability to quietly let Amy shine.
- Brie Larson plays Amy’s younger sister Kim. She didn’t get as indoctrinated by their father’s anti-monogamy statement as Amy, and is very happy with her husband and stepson. She also does a good job letting Amy be the big personality while she either quietly listens, quietly disagrees, or quietly gets hurt by what Amy says. I also enjoyed what appear to be genuine reactions by Larson to Schumer’s improvs. Mike Birbiglia plays her husband Tom, and he (and his sweaters) and his eerily polite son are mostly played for laughs – but each has a genuinely sweet moment or two.
- Colin Quinn plays the father, and he really uses his gruff irish-ness to its full potential here. Amy and Kim are constantly arguing about the quality of the facility that they move him into due to his progressing MS. He doesn’t stretch, he basically just plays Colin Quinn – but that really suits this role, and I felt that he did a great job, especially in his improved interactions with Norman Lloyd, a 100-year old actor who plays another resident at the home.
- A huge surprise in this movie is LeBron James (yes, that LeBron James). He’s playing an exaggerated version of LeBron James as Aaron’s best friend. He really steals every scene that he’s in – he’s really funny and has a natural ease with the other actors. Who knew he could be that funny? I especially love the scene where he insists that he and Aaron split the check for their lunch.
- Another surprise was John Cena playing Steven – a guy who thinks that he’s Amy’s boyfriend at the beginning of the movie, even if Amy considers him just a guy she’s hooking up with regularly. He is also really hilarious, and again – fantastic ease in the movie. His sadness as he realizes that Amy is not really into him feels genuine and really helps to make her look like the trainwreck she is portraying.
- Stand up Dave Attell plays Noam, the homeless guy who is always outside Amy’s apartment, who really does seem like more of a friend than most of her other ‘friends’.
- Vanessa Bayer, Randall Park, and Jon Glaser all play Amy’s co-workers, and they all get small scenes in which they get to be hilarious. Park suggests several odd story choices for the magazine, Glaser basically plays the same character he played on Parks and Rec, and Bayer gets yelled at for smiling too much.
- Ezra Miller plays intern Donald – and I’m mentioning him here only because he creeped me the hell out, and because Zach Synder has announced he is playing the Flash in their DC movie universe, which seems to me to be a huge mistake…but since I haven’t agreed with any choices Zach Synder has made yet…I guess that makes sense!
- The biggest surprise in this movie is Tilda Swinton (yes, that Tilda Swinton) as Dianna, the boss at the men’s magazine. She is almost unrecognizable, and is hilariously horrible in this role.
Overall, the movie was really funny, really enjoyable, and surprisingly touching! It’s definitely a hard R, and earns that rating, for example, you’ll see way more of John Cena than you were expecting. Honestly – I liked that, the men were definitely objectified, which is what women have been in male-driven comedies for years. It was very much a romantic comedy and did have a very predictable ending, but again – romcoms are the one genre that’s acceptable. The happy, successful, single woman does not exist in the romcom universe. I thought everyone did a great job, and Amy was fantastic. I cannot wait to see what she does next. Also – I’d like to see LeBron do more comedies. Honestly – I now want a buddy-cop movie with him and John Cena, where Tilda Swinton plays their commanding officer…come on – that’s genius right there.
9 out of 10 – really fantastic. Gained points for the fake movie Amy and Steven go to see, “The Dogwalker” featuring Daniel Radcliffe and Marisa Tomei – it looked terrible. Lost points for all the drinking and pot-smoking Amy does…but then gained points for being one of the only movies I’ve seen where people actually call her out for that nonsense, and does not glorify that in any way. Gained points for Swinton – Lost points for Miller. Gained all the points for LeBron and Cena.
Bonus Video 1: Just in case you somehow missed it - Another hard R comedy that cracked me up from Apatow as producer – Bridesmaids
Bonus Video 2: In case you missed Spy earlier this year – it’s out in the budget theaters now…go catch it.
Bonus Video 3: Cast interviews.