Trainwreck

Trainwreck

2015, R, 125 min. Directed by Judd Apatow. Starring Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, Brie Larson, LeBron James, Colin Quinn, Tilda Swinton, Mike Birbiglia, Vanessa Bayer, Randall Park, Jon Glaser, Ezra Miller, John Cena, Dave Atell.

REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., July 17, 2015

Trainwreck is written by and stars a woman who spawned a girl-crush nation last month by announcing in an awards speech that “I'm probably like 160 pounds right now and I can catch a dick whenever I want.” Those new converts were no immaculate conception, just a swelling of the ranks: Amy Schumer already enlists legions of fans, both female and male, hooked on the emotional confessionalism mashed with sailor-talk swagger that she showcases every week on her Comedy Central skit show, Inside Amy Schumer.

Now in its third season, the show has become a viral-video factory, crowding Facebook feeds with clips that aren’t just funny but brilliantly bracing in their puncturing of societal assumptions about attractiveness. In May, an entire episode was devoted to the question of whether Schumer was fuckable enough to be on TV, posed as a 22-minute-long parody of 12 Angry Men. In less self-assured hands, the episode could have gone monstrously wrong – but it didn’t. It may be the best thing yet on TV this year.

In her first foray into filmmaking, Schumer plays a hard-drinking magazine writer named Amy (hmmphh) whose philosophy on romance springs from her father’s example, established in a stealthily touching flashback wherein Amy’s dad (Quinn) tries to explain to his two young daughters why their parents are splitting up, and why monogamy is for chumps. The film doesn’t require Schumer’s haphazard voiceover to explain that this moment encapsulates adult Amy’s origin story – how it’s the rationale for why she enthusiastically sleeps around but doesn’t stick around for after-sex spooning, in a welcome contrast to romantic comedy’s usual template for heroines.

Amy appears to go for guys below her punching weight, until a magazine assignment puts her in the path of a sweet-tempered sports medicine specialist, Aaron (Hader, never better). They meet powerfully cute – as a pure romantic comedy, the film zings in this early stretch of jesting courtship – then tumble into a relationship that challenges her core beliefs.

Less challenged are director Judd Apatow’s. For all the potty-mouthed bluster of his hard-R comedies, they all tend to end up in the same conventional place. The hero hits rock bottom, resolves to flush all that bad behavior out of his system, and finds salvation in a traditional romantic and/or family unit.  Schumer’s Amy, it turns out, is dispiritingly no different from all those man-child types.

Schumer is at her best when she’s playing the fun-times gal. She has a dim-bulb delivery – it’s only when she cocks her head or narrows her eyes that she signals the bulb is brighter than day. She’s wobblier with drama, but then so are Apatow’s films, which historically sputter in the third act, after the thrust engines have peeled off and the running time starts to spread and congeal.

Trainwreck can be furiously funny. It just goes down too easy. It’s scared of its own sharp edges. The sly raging against the machine of Inside Amy Schumer has gone missing. Here, the rage, curiously, is turned inward.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Judd Apatow Films
The King of Staten Island
Pete Davidson grows up a bit in this semi-autobiographical dramedy

Richard Whittaker, June 12, 2020

This Is 40
Growing old gracefully is not an option in Judd Apatow's world.

Kimberley Jones, Dec. 21, 2012

More by Kimberley Jones
We Have an Issue: And The Award for “Loosiest-Goosiest Award Show Reimagining” Goes To ...
We Have an Issue: And The Award for “Loosiest-Goosiest Award Show Reimagining” Goes To ...

March 5, 2021

We Have an Issue: Don’t Let Them Get Away With It
We Have an Issue: Don’t Let Them Get Away With It
It’s time to reckon with how our state governemnt failed us – and if it was by design

Feb. 26, 2021

KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

Trainwreck, Judd Apatow, Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, Brie Larson, LeBron James, Colin Quinn, Tilda Swinton, Mike Birbiglia, Vanessa Bayer, Randall Park, Jon Glaser, Ezra Miller, John Cena, Dave Atell

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle