Amy Schumer emerges as MVP of Judd Apatow’s Trainwreck (2015), a funny but often imprecise comedy of half measures that provides her with the all-important platform to complete her transition from viral YouTube sensation to fully-fledged actress. Raised by her unfaithful father (Colin Quinn) to believe that relationships never last, Amy Townsend (Schumer) lives a free-wheeling lifestyle as a magazine writer in New York, all one night stands and drunken escapades. It’s not until she’s tasked to profile sports doctor Aaron (Bill Hader) that her hardened personality starts to soften and she opens up to the idea of ditching her wayward ways in favour of commitment.
The debut of Schumer as both lead actor and writer, Trainwreck breezes in as Amy’s reckless way of life is documented in hysterically crude detail. Her behaviour is refreshingly brazen and subverts the typical opinion in comedies of woman as doting fools, their lives non-existent until they’re swept off their feet. Schumer, conceivably because she wrote the part herself, fills Amy’s shoes perfectly, her approach to comedy triggering big laughs and making the character an endearing and engaging presence, despite her obvious flaws. It’s helped that she’s supported by a brilliant ensemble, with Hader and NBA star LeBron James two of the brightest highlights.
The script also hits the high mark on more than one occasion. There’s a spikiness to the words, characters and situations that critique the old-fashioned ideals of the rom-com, but never in a way that’s in your face. The momentum dwindles as the narrative splits off into various directions; sub-plots – Amy’s conflict with her sister (Brie Larson) over their father’s well-being, in particular – come into focus that are of little or no relevance to the main course and could easily have been excised. The subversive edge the film promoted early on is ditched extremely quickly, Amy contradicting many of her earlier assertions as the tone changes from course comedy to mawkishness. It’s a disappointing metaphorical drop of the ball. One does wonder if Apatow, who acts as direct, had any input in the finished script as he’s tended to opt for the conventional conclusion in many of his previous films. All said, Trainwreck is still good fun. Schumer is a gifted comedienne and shines brightly when left to run riot, make former wrestlers cry and stick up for modern-day women (for most of the time). It’s just a shame it doesn’t stick to its guns as it could have really been something.
Jamie Neish | @EmptyScreens