Trainwreck is the latest collaboration between comic masterminds Judd Apatow and relative newcomer Amy Schumer. This film marks the first time Schumer tackles the roles of both star and writer in a film, and let me be the first to tell you it is a match made in comedy heaven (or hell, as her character Amy seems more of an ‘anti-hero’). Apatow’s trademark humour is also present, his unashamed crudeness remaining consistent throughout. It’s actually hard to tell where Apatow’s humour ends and Schumer’s begins, as the two make quite a fine comedy duo.
Although there are some traditional rom-com motifs peppered throughout, the film largely keeps them at bay. Trainwreck goes against the grain by instead favouring non-monogamy, stating blatantly (literally, in the first scene) that “monogamy isn’t realistic.” The film follows Amy (Amy Schumer), a writer for a trashy men’s magazine, as she repeatedly navigates the booze-soaked world of one-night stands and random hook-ups. She avoids relationships like the plague until she is assigned to write an article on sports doctor Aaron (Bill Hader). Her hard exterior is slowly chipped away at as the two hit it off, and Amy begins to realize that perhaps monogamy isn’t so bad after all. Even though the film ends in a more typical fashion, it’s the journey that makes it really enjoyable to watch.
It’s clear from the get-go that Schumer has a knack for creating incredibly relatable characters. The ensemble cast features more than a few well-known faces, including LeBron James, John Cena, Tilda Swinton, as well as half a dozen SNL alumni, including a ton of cameos. Trainwreck breaks the mold in a way only Schumer can get away with. There’s a refreshing gender role-reversal between the male and female characters, a welcome change for a genre so hopelessly stuck in clichéd character archetypes. Amy is afraid of relationships, while many of the male characters favour them. One of the best examples is LeBron James (playing himself) who fills the supportive (and hilariously frugal) best friend role to Aaron, encouraging him to pursue Amy.
Schumer herself shines in the starring role, picking up any slack in her scenes. Her on-screen chemistry with Hader is unconventional but realistic, and wickedly funny. One thing she doesn’t do is hold back—with anything. No character is safe from her comedic wrath, and she dishes on everyone, including herself. As with her show Inside Amy Schumer, she takes a no-holds-barred look at the 21st century woman, scrutinizing everything (and I mean everything) for our viewing pleasure. With the breakout success of her show, and her apparent knack for screenwriting, it’s clear that Schumer is here to stay.
Hader’s slightly nerdy, slightly awkward sports doctor Aaron is at first not your typical rom-com co-lead. He’s awkward, gangly, and has a sort of creepy yet dopey stare that only Hader can muster. But from the get-go, he’s a guy you’ll want to root for with his sensible, down-to-earth qualities. And his friendship with LeBron James is one almost deserving of its own spinoff.
Trainwreck marks the first time director Judd Apatow didn’t also write his own film. The 40-Year-Old Virgin/Knocked Up director reportedly contacted Schumer after hearing her on the Howard Stern Show to talk about collaborating.
The film moves at its own pace, only slowing down slightly in the middle. In the typical Apatow fashion, it clocks in a little longer than usual, this time at a meaty 125 min. Some of the scenes are a little longer than they need to be, but only just. It doesn’t really matter. You’ll be laughing the whole way through.
The bottom line: Check this one out. It’s a subversive blend of crude and heartwarming, offering a fresh take on a theme in dire need of reinvention. Schumer and Apatow prove themselves a worthy team, creating something that is both cohesive and distinctly their own style. Don’t let the title scare you away; Trainwreck is anything but.