I was able to catch an advance screening of Trainwreck courtesy of the Associated Students Program Board (ASPB) at the University of California, Riverside. I was curious, as I’ve been a huge fan of some of Judd Apatow’s other films (most notably Knocked Up and 40-Year Old Virgin) so I was curious what we could do with a film written by comedienne (and star of this movie) Amy Schumer. Could this film manage to take the best parts of those films but avoid the pitfalls of his films like Funny People and This is 40? Let’s see.
We join our protagonist Amy (Amy Schumer) as she’s loving the single life in New York, dating a lot of men and enjoying a lot of weed and booze. Her father (SNL’s Colin Quinn) has Multiple Sclerosis and needs to be put into an assisted living home, so she works with her sister (Brie Larson) and her husband (Mike Birbiglia) to make that shift. At this point, she’s also working for a magazine (headed up by Tilda Swinton) and she’s assigned to do a story on a sports doctor named Aaron (Bill Hader). As she gets to know Aaron, she begins to realize he’s a guy unlike any that she’s dated before and it has her questioning her attitude on serious relationships.
This is Amy Schumer’s first foray into movie territory, at least as a lead, so I was super curious if she could carry an entire film. And luckily she’s able to. She’s hilarious and her writing is really sharp (and surprisingly smart). Her character though is deeply flawed in some aspects and she does a great job of balancing that carefree spirit attitude with the moments where she’s absolutely broken. She’s not always likeable but you’re glad to see it when she makes good decisions. You’re rooting for her, which is always important.
She has a few love interests throughout the movie, but only two are truly notable. The first is John Cena (of WWE wrestling fame) who is really funny here and surprisingly sensitive. But the big romantic lead is Bill Hader, who starts as just the subject of a magazine article but slowly gets attached to Amy. He wants a serious relationship and really likes her, but Amy doesn’t really know how to function in that way, as she’d rather be non-exclusive and uncommitted. So the dynamic is interesting and likely applicable to a lot of folks that have been on either side of this predicament in their relationship.
Overall, this movie is really funny. Like… Really. I laughed a lot, mostly due to the writing, but some performances were perfect as well. One that really surprised me was LeBron James as himself. He plays it up but it works perfectly, especially one moment when he asks Amy about her intentions with his friend. It was a fun turn for him.
Another surprising performance was Colin Quinn as Amy’s father with MS. He played it subtle enough but there were a few great moments where there were just little glimpses into his disease but it didn’t beat you over the head with it. Overall, it was a really nuanced performance and one that really shed light onto Amy and what made her this way.
What didn’t work?
While this movie was absolutely hilarious, it did suffer a few missteps.
The first flaw was pacing, which also was a struggle in Apatow’s other latest films. Two hours is just a little long for a comedy but there were some definite moments in the second half where things halted completely and you felt the urge to check your watch.
Also, this movie criminally underused comedian Mike Birbiglia as Amy’s brother-in-law. This guy is incredibly funny (look him up on Netflix) and he didn’t really get anything to do here.
And like most comedies, Trainwreck is incredibly predictable. Even just from the basic gist, you could make a decent guess in how it turns out and a few of the twists and turns involved. In terms of plot, nothing really unique here, but it manages to still make that journey enjoyable.
Trainwreck doesn’t do anything super unique as an R-rated comedy but thanks to Amy Schumer’s smart writing and endearing character, you are interested in the story and this character’s journey. Bill Hader is likeable as ever, and these two are supported by some incredible performances by the likes of Colin Quinn, LeBron James, Brie Larson, and more. When this movie hits theaters in July 2015, definitely give it a shot.