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Review: Trainwreck (2015) — Amy Schumer’s Breakthrough in Judd Apatow’s Return to Form

Ladies and gentlemen, Amy Schumer. Luke Miksa reviews her new film Trainwreck:

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“Monogamy isn’t realistic” is the quote a very young Amy Townsend (Amy Schumer) repeatedly has drilled into her head by her womanising father (Colin Quinn) in the opening flashback of romantic comedy Trainwreck. As an adult, Amy works at a popular men’s magazine, and her personal life is filled with heavy drinking, carefree sex, and partying — clearly adopting her father’s advice all those years earlier. Amy is assigned to write an article on successful sports doctor Aaron Connors (Bill Hader), mainly because she has absolutely no interest in the subject. As they spend time together, Amy and Aaron develop a romantic relationship, which can only survive if Amy can overcome her pre-existing conceptions on monogamy.

Ah, the look of regret.

Ah, the look of regret.

Trainwreck was written by star Amy Schumer, and is her feature debut both in screen-writing and in a leading role. Schumer’s success thus far has been relegated to stand-up comedy and her very successful sketch show, Inside Amy Schumer. Here, Schumer shows that not only can she write a strong, realistic, and hilariously outrageous female character, on-screen she can carry the whole film to boot! Schumer was a breath of fresh air that has been needed, and she brings a feminist voice to mainstream comedy which has been sorely lacking.

Director Judd Apatow has been in somewhat of a rut for his last few films, with Funny People and This is 40 receiving mixed reviews and mediocre responses. Trainwreck is the first feature directed by Apatow that he hasn’t written himself and it is quite obviously reflected in the final product, as Apatow hasn’t directed something so fresh since 2007’s Knocked Up. Gone is the free-wheeling style of filmmaking, replaced with a fairly tighter script. Although the runtime of Trainwreck still clocks in at over two hours, it moves briskly and is nowhere near as over-long as his previous efforts.

The plot is honestly a very generic boy-meets-girl romantic comedy staple. But where you were normally viewing it from the schlubby guys point-of-view as he tried to land the perfect girl, a simple gender reversal sees the schlubby guy become the (not so) schlubby girl trying to land the perfect guy. It’s such a simple concept, but a fresh voice behind and in front of the camera leads to a fresh comedy in a genre that has not felt fresh in quite a while. It just proves that comedy films do not need to break new ground on the plot, it just needs to feel new and unique. Above all it needs to be funny, and thankfully the joke ratio of Trainwreck is high.

It’s really good to see Bill Hader finally get a leading role, and his portrayal of doctor-to-the-stars-of-the-sports-world is grounded, funny when he needs to be (while letting the obvious star Schumer have her time), and surprisingly adept when the dramatic stakes are raised. I have always been a fan of goofball Hader, but he clearly can hold a lead role and that is pleasing.

LeBron: Sinking jokes from downtown (I'm sorry).

LeBron: Sinking jokes from downtown (I’m sorry).

As with any Apatow film, Trainwreck is littered with an array of memorable and unorthodox casting for side characters. Sports stars repeatedly steal the show, as basketballer LeBron James and wrestler John Cena show perfect comedy timing. Chameleon Tilda Swinton is once again almost unidentifiable as the editor of Amy’s magazine, and the dead-pan delivery of her lines is often crack-up. Brie Larson, Colin Quinn, and Ezra Miller also round out the talented cast.

Double beneficiaries of something new, Trainwreck is just as much of a shake-up for Judd Apatow as it is a breakthrough for Amy Schumer. In the past, Apatow has been accused of not featuring strong female roles in his productions, beyond his wife Leslie Mann (and who I generally find shrill and annoying anyway). In accepting Schumer’s screenplay, he not only bolstered her career, but also gave his own career a shot in the arm. Follow-up films from each are greatly anticipated.

Llama Score: 8Trainwreck is really funny: A breakout role for Amy Schumer, return to form for Judd Apatow, and a spotlight for the talented supporting cast. While the plot may be trite, a fresh voice from a strong, sexual female lead elevates it into hilarious new territory.

 

Award: Golden LlamaAward: Lorne Michaels

Highlights Banner

– Surprise-packet sports stars John Cena and LeBron James nailing it.

– A great selection of new or underappreciated actors getting a chance to shine.

– Surprisingly well written by Amy Schumer, for a first-time feature screenplay.

– Judd Apatow’s wife and children nowhere to be found.

Lowlights Banner

– A bit long for a comedy, but thankfully shorter than a standard Apatow film.

– A very strange cameo near the end. Just weird.

Further Viewing Banner

Knocked Up (2007)

This is 40 (2012)

Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)

Trainwreck Blu-Ray now available for pre-order on Amazon.

Directed by: Judd Apatow Written by: Amy Schumer Produced by: Judd Apatow, Barry Mendel Starring: Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, Brie Larson, Colin Quinn, John Cena, Tilda Swinton, Ezra Miller, LeBron James Distributed by: Universal Pictures Run length: 124 minutes Australian Release: Out now in all major cinemas

 

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