While Funny People and This Is 40 both that gathered themselves loyal fans, they arguably marked somewhat of a dip in the career of director Judd Apatow. The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up were sharp adult comedies that managed to balance crude humour with a heavy dose of heart, while the aforementioned two films saw the writer-director heading into borderline self-indulgent ruminations on life. His direction of comedy was still intact, but a change of authorship was in order: welcome, Amy Schumer.
To be clear, Trainwreck is by no means a game-changer. The story of a care-free, commitment-phobic individual coming face to face with their ways is nothing new, especially in the rom-com department, but Schumer’s work as star and screenwriter brings a bit of fresh air to the somewhat generic rom-com elements on display.
Schumer’s stand-up work and popular Comedy Central sketch series Inside Amy Schumer rely on her ability to connect with audience members as a gutsy and confident female voice. And it’s her voice that carries Trainwreck to the finish line. Schumer’s Amy (yep) is a loud-mouthed, insensitive, and crude individual, but it’s to the actress’ credit that she is almost immediately likeable. Really, it’s her honesty and familiarity that makes her so appealing. We’re on board with her antics, enjoying her many self-depreciating moments, yet holding onto the hope that she’ll meet the right guy. Hello, Bill Hader.
Hader’s work is fantastic here. He may not be on the spotlight path that Schumer is on, but his work as Aaron, the genuinely nice sports doctor, manages to grab generic romantic-lead cliches and twist them into a character that is not only serviceable to this kind of film, but to one that feels real. We’re on our main girl’s side, but hey, we completely understand why John Cena’s hilarious Steven finds himself ultimately done with her. Aaron falls for her and wants to make it work, and it’s thanks to Hader’s performance that the film’s relationship arc works a treat.
Amy’s relationship with her father and her sister adds welcome depth; Schumer’s screenplay discussing issues relating to the lessons parents pass down to their children and the expectations that siblings place on each other. Brie Larson is great as Amy’s sister, Kim, also infusing her character with a necessary dose of truthfulness.
Unfortunately, as has been Apatow’s problem in the past, Trainwreck goes on for much too long. While the Apatow-style comedy would be remiss in not including a variety of impromptu-esque scenes, the cutting-room floor needs to be able to meet more than Apatow and co. seem to be willing to part with. The film’s pacing, while certainly never dull, drags out moments in the hope that, assuming you’re still not laughing, you’re bound to be if it goes for a bit longer. The same thing goes with nailing the same points repeatedly. Yes, Amy’s got some issues, and yes, she likes sex; how many times do we need to be told?
Aaron’s job as a sports doctor adds a key element to the film’s comedy, with LeBron James proving some of his acting chops in an amiable role. The many sports-related jokes may fly right over the heads of those without the necessary knowledge, somewhat of a disappointingly audience-specific target when all the film’s other elements work on a universal level, as picky as it sounds.
Like our protagonist, Trainwreck isn’t perfect. And like our protagonist, we’re still drawn in. Schumer proves herself to be quite the adept feature writer and performer, confidently juggling her signature commentary and the depiction of her semi-autobiographical character’s ups and downs while keeping an eye firmly on the trademarks of a rom-com.
THE REEL SCORE: 7/10