Directed by Judd Apatow. Starring Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, Colin Quinn, Tilda Swinton, Marisa Tomei, Ezra Miller, John Cena, Barkhad Abdi, Katy Mixon, Brie Larson, Bar Paly, Mike Birbiglia, Vanessa Bayer, Method Man, Jon Glaser, Marija Skangale, Norman Lloyd, Pete Davidson, Daniel Radcliffe, LeBron James, Amar’e Stoudemire, Tim Meadows, Dave Attell. Written by Amy Schumer.
Comedienne Amy Schumer is utterly charming in director Judd Apatow’s new comedy Trainwreck, which was written by the star and incorporates events from her own life.
Still, the film bears all the hallmarks of the director’s previous features (Knocked Up, The 40-Year-Old Virgin), including refreshingly natural characters and deadpan comedy… and a rambling narrative structure that stumbles to a protracted finale.
Beneath all the genuinely funny moments and dedicated character work, this is a shamelessly formulaic romantic comedy that goes on for over two hours. It’s never boring, but the film gets less funny the longer it goes on, and climactic scenes begin to wear out their welcome.
But the performances make up for any shortcomings: Schumer, in her first starring role, is simply delightful, and she’s supported by a terrific supporting cast.
Apatow’s previous films, as director and producer, have made leads out of modest, schlubby types such as Seth Rogen and Jason Segel, but has often paired them with the likes of a Katherine Heigl or a Mila Kunis.
Here, finally, is a matching Apatow heroine. Not physically, mind you – Schumer is still too attractive for that – but here’s a comedienne who understands and practices the same kind of self-deprecating humor as her male counterparts.
Schumer plays Amy Townsend, staff writer at a men’s magazine called S’nuff. In a brief opening flashback, her father (Colin Quinn) informs his two daughters that mom and dad are splitting up, and that monogamy is outdated in this modern world.
It’s a mindset that would, unfortunately, define the relationships in Amy’s adult life: she parties, drinks, and carries on a series of one night stands with men she never expects to see again, even though she’s currently ‘datng’ a musclehead played by WWE’s John Cena.
One of Amy’s assignments at the magazine is to interview sports surgeon Aaron Connors (Bill Hader), who has developed a new knee surgery that can save the careers of pro athletes and is buddy-buddy with stars like LeBron James and Amar’e Stoudemire, both of whom have featured roles in the film.
Of course, the two hit it off and the usual stuff unfolds. Despite Amy’s past life and ‘rules’ for (not) maintaining relationships, she finds herself falling in love and not knowing how to deal with it.
SNL alum Hader delivered a breakout dramatic performance in last year’s The Skeleton Twins, and he’s just as good here. His surgeon doesn’t have the kind of character development that Amy does, but he’s relatable, good-natured, and genuinely fun to be around.
Toward the end, however, we wonder what Hader’s millionaire sports surgeon sees in this self-confessed trainwreck. The film keeps telling us that he’s socially awkward and has trouble with relationships, but he seems to have a pretty good head on his shoulders, especially compared to Amy.
A great supporting cast and wealth of unexpected cameos helps keep the film afloat. Tilda Swinton is wonderful playing against type as the editor of the men’s magazine, and Ezra Miller, Jon Glaser, Vanessa Bayer, Randall Park, last seen as Kim Jong-Un in The Interview, are fun as Amy’s colleagues. Brie Larson also contributes some good work as her sister, who has finally risen above dad’s mantra.
Daniel Radcliffe and Marisa Tomei briefly appear in the hilarious art film-within-the-film The Dogwalker.
But you know who’s the real breakout star here? LeBron James. Two decades after Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal failed to light up the big screen, here’s the NBA’s biggest star delivering some of the film’s best lines with perfect comic timing.
Of course, Schumer is the real revelation. Trainwreck is long and lumbering, but frequently very funny: it fits well into the canon of its director, and will hopefully be the start of a new one for charismatic writer-star.