UK Release Date: 14th August 2015
Runtime: 125 minutes
Director: Judd Apatow
Writer: Amy Schumer
Starring: Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, Tilda Swinton, Brie Larson, LeBron James, John Cena, Colin Quinn
Synopsis: A commitment-phobic young woman finds herself stunned by the possibilities of monogamy when she meets a sensitive sport doctor as part of her job and falls for him.
In the midst of what is something of a boom period for female-led comedy on the big screen – with the exception of the dire Hot Pursuit – it was only a matter of time before Judd Apatow got in on the act. The man behind Knocked Up and The 40-Year-Old Virgin has teamed up with the immensely talented TV comedienne Amy Schumer for Trainwreck, which is very much a breath of comedic fresh air.
Magazine journalist Amy (Schumer), after being told as a child by her father (Colin Quinn) that monogamy isn’t realistic, has sex with multiple partners despite her relationship with Steven (John Cena). She also jokes about the implausibility of relationships with her married sister Kim (Brie Larson). Amy questions her principles when her editor (Tilda Swinton) assigns her to write about acclaimed and innovative sports doctor Aaron Conners (Bill Hader) and they end up sleeping together.
There’s an odd sense of irony in Judd Apatow directing a female-led comedy, given that the success of him and his friends was a huge part of the male comedy boom of the noughties. It’s remarkable how revolutionary Trainwreck often feels, given that it is essentially a standard Apatow film with the sole difference being that the genders are switched. Schumer is the standard foul-mouthed, commitment-phobic Apatow protagonist, right down to the silly romantic gesture at the climax – she’s just a woman.
| "You’re clever but you’re not too brainy. You’re prettyish but you’re not too gorgeous. You’re approachable."
Schumer is a live wire of comedy. She brings real life to her character, to the point that it’s often quite difficult to disagree with her rather warped view of romance. Everything she does and says is terrifyingly plausible, most obviously her relationship with Bill Hader, with whom she has an undeniable and easy chemistry. It’s genuinely charming to watch their love blossom and look on as they change each other, for better or worse.
Trainwreck also creates an entire galaxy of more outlandish supporting players, including an unrecognisable Tilda Swinton as Amy’s tyrannical editor. WWE wrestler John Cena also turns up in an incredibly memorable comic turn as a gym addict so big he looks “like Mark Wahlberg ate Mark Wahlberg”, who packs a surprisingly sensitive side. The surprise package, even more, is NBA star LeBron James in a great turn as himself. A running gag about his thrifty attitude to money never gets old.
There are flaws, though, to the film. Like almost every Apatow film, Trainwreck is almost half an hour too long. Apatow knows how to let his performers create comedy gold on set, with loose improvisation, but lacks discipline in the editing room. It’s not even a case of an embarrassment of riches – there’s one scene which consists entirely of sporting cameos and doesn’t play at all outside of its native USA. It drags down the momentum of the film just as Trainwreck should be working towards its climax.
| "You dress him like that just so no one else wants to have sex with him? That’s cool."
Trainwreck is a very encouraging screen debut for Schumer, who conjures up a smart, sharp romcom that packs more laugh-out-loud moments than just about any comedy this year. It’s a slave to Apatowian excesses in its running time and leans too heavily on American references to truly work on this side of the Atlantic, but there’s no denying the simple fact that it might be the funniest romcom of 2015.
Pop or Poop?
A maelstrom of verbal barbs and effortless physical comedy, Amy Schumer is going to be a key part of the American comedy scene for years to come.
Trainwreck is a tremendous calling card for her talents, mixing improvisational wit with a tender undercurrent of emotion. It also benefits from some brave supporting casting that introduces some new comic talents in well-known faces.
It’s too long and rather ill-disciplined, but Trainwreck is damn funny from start to finish.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.