You can get off your high horse now. Believe me, I understand why you’re there. But for us skeptics who spend much of our lives on hype patrol in the precincts of American celebrity, one thing is obvious relatively early on about “Trainwreck:” Amy Schumer is as good as advertised (i.e. hyped everywhere for the past month).
People have known how edgy and raunchy and funny she is from the minute “Inside Amy Schumer” went on Comedy Central. (Her all-star bit on Hollywood’s dimwit take on the sexuality of actresses over 40 immediately went viral and became a YouTube classic, if there is such a thing.) “Trainwreck” proves that she is a first-rate comedy screenwriter and not too shabby an all-around actress either.
When she wants you to guffaw in “Trainwreck,” there are very good chances you’ll guffaw. When she wants you to mist up, there are very good chances you’ll do that, too.
Sight unseen, some of us thought it might turn out to be the comedy of the summer. I’m not sure it’s all that, but no one with any judgment or passion for movie comedy is likely to dispute that she’s the major comedy arrival (capital A) of 2015.
In “Trainwreck” she plays a girl named Amy who was taught by her father that monogamy doesn’t work. In a very funny opening scene set next to the family garage, her father (played by Colin Quinn) explains, in terms of her favorite doll, why children should be able to play with lots of dolls, not just one. Which is why Daddy and Mommy are getting divorced.
So Amy grows up to be the “Trainwreck” of the title – a promiscuous, sleep-around mess whose skirts seldom drop below mid-thigh and who is so inattentive to the details of her evening sex partners from night to night that this self-conscious Manhattan smartie is likely to wake up and discover with dismay that her regular morning walk of shame will have to take place on Staten Island.
Her boyfriend is a muscle-bound gym specimen (John Cena) who, when asked by her to talk dirty in bed, starts talking about protein and muttering, “There’s no I in team.” Then there’s the fellow – seen early on – whose anatomic over-abundance, she says, seems to make him a one-man “Game of Thrones.”
She navigates from bed to bed with a great deal of alcohol and pot that occasionally helps her through the day, too. She works at a grisly Manhattan men’s magazine called “S’Nuff” that likes to do things like rate the Top 10 ugly children of celebrities and advise readers “You’re Not Gay, She’s Just Boring.” Schumer, the screenwriter, is awfully funny, but that’s not exactly news.
Amy, as the character named Amy, is assigned by her editor (hilariously played by a nearly unrecognizable Tilda Swinton) to interview a prodigy in the field of sports medicine – an orthopedic surgeon (Bill Hader) known for doing miracles with ligaments, cartilage and bones and saving the careers of zillion-dollar athletes. Tom Brady, for instance. LeBron James (funny, if a wee bit overexuberant) is the guy’s best friend. Amar’e Stoudemire of the Knicks is his next big operating room appointment.
Our girl knows and cares nothing about sports. Her response to the bumping and grinding team cheerleaders he also treats is, “You’re going to lose women the right to vote!”
We all know she’s going to hook up with the guy for a drearily happy Judd Apatow ending. Bed check as populous as a U.S. Census has to end sometime. And then some real family emotional wallops introduce her to real emotional need; they also introduce to us Amy the actress and that’s where all high horse dismounts must begin. She’s got serious on-camera chops, no matter what.
Apatow’s trademark commercial approach to conventional love and marriage is all well and good. God help this woman if her life of conventional raunch were to transform into, say, a love of archaeology. That’s not an Apatow movie.
Never mind any of us out here in the audience who might wonder if her substance abuse problems were as amenable to cold-turkey as her promiscuity problems – or, frankly, if either one were amenable to simple Hollywood self-congratulating “just say no” life changes.
Another director could have turned actress/writer/comedian Schumer into something fascinating and brilliant – as wildly interesting as she is currently formidable. For now, American movies will just have to settle for funny, talented and formidable.
Starring: Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, Brie Larson, Tilda Swinton, LeBron James, Colin Quinn, Amar’e Stoudemire
Director: Judd Apatow
Running time: 125 minutes
Rating: R for much sex, nudity, language, drugs and alcohol abuse.
The Lowdown: Promiscuous good-time girl falls in love and tries to cope with various family troubles.