“There’s no such thing as love, it’s fantasy…”
-Summer ( Days of Summer)
Judd Apatow has become a sought after name in Hollywood. Apatow’s humor and clout have made him a central figure in the movie industry for the last decade. He has done everything from TV to film. He has arguably made stars out of Seth Rogen and Jason Segel. But Trainwreck is an interesting test for Apatow and his type of humor. This is his first film to star a woman in the lead role. This is also the first time he is directing a film written by someone other than himself. This unique situation might be the best thing to happen to his career.
Amy Schumer stars as Amy, a wild non-monogamous career-driven woman. The only things her character cares about is sex, alcohol, family, and fun. She is a somewhat successful writer for a trashy men’s magazine. Her boss Dianna, played by the amazing Tilda Swinton, gives her the boring job of writing a profile piece about a sports doctor Aaron (Bill Hader). Amy and Aaron hit it off quickly despite being polar opposites. This leads to the classic Judd Apatow trope of “adult children becoming real adults”. But Schumer breaks through the usual Apatow mess to shine brightly.
Schumer is fantastic in the lead role. Her charisma and charm demand your attention in every scene. She is unique in that she can pull off sweet, trashy, cute, and funny. Her ability to be witty and excel in physical comedy is also something that stands out. The character Amy was obviously written for her because she wrote the script, but Schumer is a great actress. Her skill was my biggest take away from the film. When the script asks her to be smart, she can pull it off. When the script asks her to be belligerent, she can do that too.
Casting a film is certainly something Judd Apatow can do. The casting in this film is phenomenal. From Bill Hader to Tilda Swinton to LeBron James, all the actors are on top of their game. I could write a thousand words about the many terrific cameos in this film, but instead I’m going to focus on just one. John Cena is a scene stealer. Much has been made of LeBron’s ability and humor in this film, but Cena is the real revelation. LeBron is great, but Cena’s turn as homoerotic friend with benefits is simply classic. His delivery and timing is on point in every scene. Bill Hader is also terrific as Aaron. Hader is asked to play the straight man to Schumer’s over-the-top Amy, and he succeeds. Hader could easily get lost in the sea of big personalities, but instead he stands out because his character is so normal.
The single biggest critique of the film is the same in all of Apatow’s films. The film begins to get overly saccharine towards the end. Apatow has become known for his gross out humor combined with down to earth crises. Trainwreck is no different. It’s extremely hard to take these moments seriously when less than an hour ago, we were watching someone have awkward sex while discussing protein powder. Apatow seems like a man torn. He was pigeon holed as a comedic director, but has had dreams of doing something much more grandiose. Funny People was his attempt to be more heartfelt than funny, and it failed. Trainwreck is far from a failure, but that has more to do with Amy Schumer than Judd Apatow.
Trainwreck disproves the old sexist adage that women aren’t funny. Amy Schumer is the funniest thing about the funniest movie so far this year. She is a talented actress with a sense of comedic timing that sets her apart from her peers. Hader, James, and Cena are extraordinary supporting actors with Cena absolutely stealing the show. Judd Apatow does what he can to destroy this movie, but fortunately for us, Amy Schumer saves the film. Trainwreck is a story about a modern woman who is in control of her own life. That is a very refreshing idea in modern cinema.