“Trainwreck”—A Comic Collision
“Trainwreck” is the best and funniest rom-com since “Bridesmaids”, another hilarious feminist film by Judd Apatow, known also for bro-coms like “40-Year Old Virgin”. And like previous Apatow productions “Bridesmaids” (see my June 20, 2011 review) and “Girls” , “Trainwreck” is both funny and a little sad. The scenes that are the most memorable and vivid, however, are comic fireworks. Written and starring Amy Schumer, “Trainwreck’s” humor is raunchy, pushes the boundaries of conventional one-liners, and is as sexually explicit as Schumer’s Comedy Central TV series.
Amy Townsend (Schumer) is the daughter of a cantankerous, alcoholic dad (Colin Quinn) with infidelity and commitment issues. Amy follows in his footsteps. Disagreements with her younger sister about Dad’s assisted living expenses become a key indicator of Amy’s attitude toward the deeply unsympathetic man and the way he helped shape the mess she became. But it’s all too clear that Amy’s commitment-phobia, compulsive drinking, and pot-smoking are masking deeper wounds. As a staff writer for a low-brow men’s magazine, Amy gets assigned to interview Aaron Conners (Bill Hader), a sports doctor to the elite like LeBron James (who surprises with impeccable comic timing). The reason for the assignment: she hates sports.
Schumer and Hader have unbelievable chemistry together. Hader’s goofy Mr. Nice Guy channels Tom Hanks in his early career. And he plays perfectly to Schumer’s fear of intimacy and seeming invulnerability. That’s the basic theme here: about rejecting those we really desire before they have a chance to reject us. The why-try-if-we-know-how-it-will-end-up syndrome.
And what a comic team Schumer and Hader make! Funny or serious, they approach every scene without skipping a beat in timing. Open, fearless, undefended, masterful. And the supporting cast (Tilda Swinton, Colin Quinn, Vanessa Bayer, Brie Larson) give hilarious and moving performances. What every great comedy requires!
In one scene poor Aaron is imposed upon by Amy, who is afraid she has a deep need and desire for him, so she picks a fight: “You go down on me too much!” she yells, desperate to criticize him, before the joke turns around again: “And don’t try to spin this into a reason for not going down on me.”
Some jokes may not be for all tastes, but Schumer is a juggernaut for women in comedy as much as her predecessors: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Kristen Wiig, and Lena Dunham, most of whom have been supported by Apatow. And, beat for beat, “Trainwreck” is one of Apatow’s most consistently funny and charming films ever. I want to see more Amy Schumer!!