Tuesday, August 11, 2015

TRAINWRECK (2015)

Written by Amy Schumer


Directed by Judd Apatow


Where & When: Springdale 18 Cinema De Luxe, Cincinnati, OH. July 27, 2015



I admit I was very tardy to the Amy Schumer party but after catching the recent season of her skit comedy series, "Inside Amy Schumer", I have become a die-hard fan of the ribald comedian. After making her mark on television, Schumer is attempting to take on the big screen with "Trainwreck", a wonderfully offbeat romantic comedy that she has written. The director who is best known for his brand of sweetly lewd man-child comedies, Judd Apatow was inspired by Schumer to break out of his comfortable niche. This is the first film he has directed that he hasn't written and together they enhance each other's gifts.

Our story begins with Gordon Townsend (Colin Quinn) telling his two young daughters that he's divorcing their mother and leaves them with some fatherly advice that monogamy isn't at all realistic. Years later, while the younger sister, Kim (Brie Larson) didn't take him seriously, Amy (Schumer) took her daddy's words to heart. Kim has settled in to a comfortable relationship with a nice guy (Mike Birbiglia) and his nerdy, young son but Amy is a wild, hot mess. The only commitment she has is to evenings filled with too much alcohol and ending with anonymous sexual encounters.

Amy works as a writer for a men's magazine run by Dianna (Tilda Swinton), a brassy editor-in-chief that makes Anna Wintour seem demure and slight. Realizing Amy's aversion to sports, Dianna thinks she will be perfect to do a story on a top doctor working with basketball players. When Amy meets her subject, Aaron (Bill Hader), sweet but socially inept, they hit it off. After spending the evening enjoying each other's company, it ends with Amy's usual routine of heavy drinking and sex. But Aaron asks Amy to break her steadfast rule of never spending the night and surprisingly, she agrees. The biggest shock occurs for Amy the next day when the doctor calls actually wanting to see her again. She's kinda, sort of dating a muscle-bound lunkhead (John Cena) but Aaron begins to stir genuine emotions in her for the first time which scares her to death.

Part of Ms Schumer's comedy is to shock and titillate with her no-holds-barred observations on sexism and gender politics. She may look like the adorable girl-next-door but she's unafraid to tell a raunchy joke that might make you squirm in your seat yet also leave you with something deeper to think about. "Trainwreck" aims to shake-up the dated notion of the romantic comedy and Schumer's amusing screenplay (loosely based on her own real-life experiences)  cleverly flips long held expectations of how women should behave in the pursuit of love and companionship. The comedian enjoys locating the humor in awkward sexual situations which is clearly what appealed to Mr. Apatow. The film also explores Amy's troubled family dynamic, with the director bringing his skill of finding the heartwarming and poignant emotional moments in between all of the absurdity.

My only real complaint is the same complaint I have with most of Mr. Apatow's films which is that they go on far too long. I'm sure the director feels that every filmed bit is a precious gem that he can't bear to lose but "Trainwreck" clocks in at a little over two hours. For a comedy with a fairly simple plot, the film feels unnecessarily padded.

No one should be surprised by Ms Schumer ably delivering the funny but what is more unexpected is her deft performance in the more dramatic situations. This is Mr. Hader's first real shot as a leading man and the Saturday Night Live veteran is more than capable of handling this position. Another inspired move was having basketball great, LeBron James turn up playing an overly sensitive version of himself as the doctor's patient/buddy who's rooting for the couple as he offers thoughtful words of encouragement. In a role usually reserved for the female lead's BFF, James is quite effectively funny. Several other well-known faces pop-up to make notable cameo appearances. Some likely (current SNL players, Vanessa Bayer, Pete Davidson and Leslie Jones, a horde of stand-up comedians, and Oscar-winner, Marisa Tomei) and others more unexpected (tennis star, Chris Evert, the Miami Heat's, Amar'e Stoudemire, sportscaster, Marv Albert and "Harry Potter" actor, Daniel Radcliffe ).

With "Trainwreck", Amy Schumer proves she can be just as hilariously vulgar as the boys yet her comedy still comes from a place involving thoughtful female insight. Another thing this film proves is that Schumer is a new kind of comedy star. Her blazing wit, quirky charm and brutal honesty is just what is missing and desperately needed in cinema today.