Film Review – Trainwreck (2015)


It’s unlikely that many in UK audiences will be familiar with Amy Schumer. Her Comedy Central series has only-just made it here, despite recently finishing its third season in the States. However, this is bound to change as the actress, writer, and comedienne leads Judd Apatow‘s latest, Trainwreck.

Schumer’s screenplay follows thirty-something Amy (Schumer) as she enjoys a life avoiding long-term relationships – in fact, anything over a one-night stand is alien to the young magazine writer. When her boss (Tilda Swinton) assigns her the task of interviewing a sports doctor (Bill Hader), Amy begins to find her ways change as she falls for her interview subject.

Schumer’s stand-up material is usually frank with no-holds barred discussions regarding her sexual encounters, heavy-drinking, and general musings on daily life. Trainwreck feels like the narrative consequence of this stage material and has much to admire in terms of its unique voice and refreshing boldness regarding such topics. Usually female-fronted comedies focus on women actively seeking their dream partner, yet Trainwreck (initially) subverts this in its tale of a young woman avoiding the chains of monogamy – the amusing introduction sees a young Amy and her sister Kim (later played by Brie Larson) told by their father “Monogamy isn’t realistic” followed by a hilarious analogy about playing with the same “doll” for the rest of your life.

In its first half Trainwreck excels and Schumer stands-out as a unique voice in the comedy world. Scenes capturing Amy’s disgust at her Sister’s family life and awkwardness surrounding her nephew and brother-in-law are likely to speak to everyone over a certain-age without kids. There’s wonderfully cutting material given to an unrecognisable Tilda Swinton‘s hard-as-nails editor Diana, whilst John Cena sends up his tough-guy image as Amy’s sensitive/closeted ‘boyfriend’. Despite these wonderful supporting players, the star of this is still the gleefully honest Schumer, who’s confidence and self-deprecating style are the source of many a belly laugh.

Its unfortunate that as Trainwreck progresses and the relationship between Amy and Hader’s Aaron evolves, it veers into conventional rom-com territory. The party girl changing her ways for the goofy doctor creates some conflict that feels entirely familiar – with most of it feeling laboured and joyless than the latter half. Still Schumer still works some playful comedy into the fold, albeit lacking the bite of the more cynical proceeding scenes. Here Trainwreck can feel significantly too-long as although present the humour does simmer down, and conventionality takes over.

An amusing cheerleading number and a host of cameos inc. Matthew Broderick, LeBron James, Marisa Tomei, Daniel Radcliffe, and Leslie Jones keep things fresh throughout. Ryan Phillippe‘s cameo appears to have been cut, but the star gets a mention – and will hopefully make an appearance on the DVD. Praise should also go to a short appearance by the hilarious Bridget Everett, Schumer’s occasional television and stage co-star, who manages to steal every scene in which she’s featured.

Trainwreck is set to put Schumer on the cinematic map – with the performer’s frank and unique comic voice hitting like a jolt of lightning. Her collaboration with Apatow is often wickedly funny, but is hampered by veering into conventional territory in the latter stages.

Andrew McArthur

Comedy, Romance | USA, 2015 | 15 | 14th August 2015 (UK) | Universal Pictures UK | Dir.Judd Apatow | Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, Brie Larson, John Cena, Tilda Swinton, Mike Birbiglia, Method Man