Director Judd Apatow Starring Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, Colin Quinn, LeBron James, John Cena, Brie Larson, Tilda Swinton, Ezra Miller
In the months leading up to Trainwreck all I was hearing was how great it was that this comedienne was pulling no punches when it came to women’s sexuality. Amy Schumer has exploded into the mainstream with her frank style of observational comedy regarding dating and love, and this two-hour highlights package has struck a chord, not just with Schumer fans but with the general public. Equality is something I strongly believe in and Trainwreck has this women’s liberation vibe to it, so I was intrigued as to how Amy was going to tackle this issue of current gender inequality that is very much a hot topic at the moment. On this front it didn’t fail me…
… However, while this film is being universally praised there really needs to be an asterisk placed next to that assumptive statement that this is for everyone with a funny bone.
What I’m trying to say is I would find this film a hell of a lot funnier if I actually liked Amy’s material. It has some quality to it, the tale of Amy Townsend (Schumer) as she transitions from care-free party girl to a monogamous lover is a breath of fresh air, but Schumer herself is new to this and it shows. I’ve watched her stand-up and I’ve now her first film, and after a few days of reflection I’ve realised the character of Amy comes across not as a woman misguided by her father Gordon (Quinn) but more a drunken, stoned teenager who takes no interest in anything outside of partying and sex.
Her leading performance, the most important to the film, is also the least impressive. For the majority of the film all she does is sprout smart-arse one liners that paint her as dislikeable. Seasoned comic Bill Hader leaves her for dust, John Cena puts in an amazing performance as the jilted and unknowing homosexual Stephen, and even LeBron James does a better job with his pure sidekick role. The only other character I found to be as shallow and frustratingly annoying as Amy is Dianna (Swinton). I think I understand where they were coming from, but we don’t get wise-cracking sarcasm; we get a bitch.
However I am a fair man and must say it doesn’t end with just Amy. The script has moments of greatness, but Judd Apatow or no it struggles with its two-hour running time. Some parts are slow, others are dull and uninteresting and it just stops rather than comes to a logical conclusion. To top it off Amy’s character development, which is central to the development of the film, is brought on suddenly and thus clunky.
Amy’s in-your-face attitude with her material is not a detraction of the quality that does exist in Trainwreck but it was definitely used unwisely. I understand Amy is a confronting comic, I’m not unaccustomed to that style but there’s a limit to everything. Some can take a lot and others can’t take any of it, but I found my limit in Trainwreck. There are times where it works, such as the hilarious Stephen sex scene, but then there’s this Johnny Depp bathroom conversation between Amy and Nikki (Bayer) and Amy’s deliberate gross-out sex story at her sister Kim’s (Larson) baby shower. I refuse to label them as bad because it feels like it’s a simple case of conservatism coming from yours truly, but ultimately they come across as deliberately confronting moments that added nothing to the film.
Overall Amy has something going for her, but while she’s got a grasp on it she’s not yet mastered what makes her a unique comedienne. Trainwreck is an example of this; it’s not a bad film but it’s not pitched perfectly, often being underwhelming or over the top while just not hitting the mark with tone. I can imagine this being an amazing outing if made some years into her career, but I can’t hold that against her because everybody has to start somewhere, and yes I took away more negatives but it has made me realise that the production of Trainwreck itself demonstrates one of the main themes of this film: imperfection.