Starring: Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, Brie Larson, Colin Quinn, John Cena, Tilda Swinton and Le Bron James
Directed by: Judd Apatow
Cert: 16 Running Time: 125 mins
If like me you hadn’t been privy to Amy Schumer’s talents before now, you’d be forgiven for assuming her ‘woman of the moment’ status a fleeting one, but her cinema debut, after an eleven year climb to the top of the American comedy circuit, marks a new voice in Hollywood and a wildly funny one at that.
Directed by comedy maestro Judd Apatow, (who was so struck with Schumer’sscreenplay that he chose to direct it as well as produce), Trainwreck is a new romantic comedy that showcases a leading lady in a star turn. Every scene belongs to Schumer. It’s her journey and her jokes and she’s the reason it works on every level. Largely auto-biographical Schumer’s character (also called Amy) is the train wreck of the title, a woman who is disastrous at relationships – a commitment-phobe who would rather sleep around than be tied to one person forever. Amy’s forced to re-think her views when she encounters sports physician and surgeon Aaron Connors (Bill Hader). Tasked by her editor at mens magazine S’Nuff with interviewing the doctor she finds herself liking him for more than just one date.
While the first half hour plays like an off-shoot of Sex And The City (Amy is a potent mix of Samantha’s promiscuity and balls out honesty and Carrie’s kooky, razor sharp writer) it soon settles into its own rhythm as Schumer’s sassy script turns gender roles on its head with the girls talking locker-room-dirty while the men are deeply invested emotionally and romantically.
Craving the physical intimacy of sex but hilariously reeling when Aaron breathes next to her afterwards, Schumer never pushes it too far that you don’t relate to Amy and there’s a gravitational pull between her and Aaron that you just want to work. Their chemistry has an old-school crackle and Hader delivers large on the laughs too with Schumer writing plenty of great scenes some comedic, some not, that really move you to actually give a damn about them.
Reminiscent in some ways of When Harry Met Sally, the film has a lot to say about relationships and the ups and downs of getting to know someone past the physical side. It’s a credit to Schumer that all of the relationships in the film are so cleanly drawn. Her relationship with her sister Kim (Brie Larson) is at times caustic as Amy despises the dark side of domestic life her sister has chosen. Both of them also have their own fraught and complicated relationship with their father (a brilliant Colin Quinn) and the lack of saccharine sprinkled over the proceedings is refreshing and makes the punches hit all the harder when they come.
The supporting cast have fun twisting public perceptions with a great turn from basketball pro LeBron James (playing himself) as the loveable best friend (played by a woman in every other rom com you’ve ever seen). WWE’s John Cena too brings fun improv skills to a movie date with Amy, looking ‘like Mark Wahlberg ate Mark Wahlberg’ and the magnificent Tilda Swinton chews the scenery with her raspy East London swagger as Amy’s glamorous editor.
Rarely does a comedy deliver as much as Trainwreck, hurtling laugh after laugh, the jokes fresh and I-can’t-believe-she-said-that funny. With a keen comedic eye on pop culture there are also some very funny gags. The one about the tampon and Game of Thrones is very funny, if perhaps more to us girls. But Schumer is letting us in on the joke. For too long Hollywood has told us how women in romantic comedies should behave. Schumer has destroyed that in one go. All hail Schumer!