Trainwreck (15)

Directed by Judd Apatow
Starring AMy Schumer, Bill Hader, Brie Larssen, Tilda Swinton, LeBron James

As a fan of 'Inside Amy Schumer', I knew what to expect from this film - and indeed if you know Schumer's style of comedy, the main surprise from this film is that is actually is quite a conventional rom-com at heart. Schumer's hilarious persona of an average girl who likes to talk about sex in a frank and funny way is definitely something we've not seen since 'Bridesmaids'. Judd Apatow is sometimes criticized for his laddish bromantic comedies, but his championing of Lena Dunham, Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig and now Amy Schumer really should earn him major feminist kudos! Schumer is more amiable, less crude than Melissa McCarthy's comedic persona; she is more of what it means to be a sexually active female in the 21st century - in fairly graphic detail at times!

In this film she plays another version of this persona as Amy, a free wheeling modern girl with a good job at a pretty awful men's magazine and a happy and varied sex life with a string of men. As a child, her father had instilled in her that 'monogamy isn't realistic' in a very funny opening flashback scene. We meet her as she half heartedly dates a rather odd body builder with gay tendencies. Soon her boss at the magazine - an almost unrecognisable Tilda Swinton - sends her to interview Aaron (Bill Hader), rather dorky orthopedic surgeon to lots of famous athletes. His best friend is basketball star LeBron James, who has a really nice line in dry wit as an actor. Of course, Amy knows nothing about sports, but she pretty much talks him into bed straight away, expecting her usual one night stand. However, they unexpectedly start to build a relationship after Hader pursues her, but can Amy overcome her reticence about commitment?

The first half of the film is really nicely subversive. Sex is portrayed in a way only 'Bridemaids' has done in the past. Kind of awkward, not at all movie soft-focus, strings and perfections. Also very much from a femle perspective - which is still incredibly rare. Amy's bodybuilder boyfriend is a refreshingly hilarious narcissist, and I loved the very funny scene which was in the trailer of Amy and her friend's shock over Hader ringing her after their hook-up. The magazine scenes benefit from Swinton, 'Fresh Off the Boat's' Randall Park, Ezra Miller and are plausibly outrageous. Amy is probably one of the most sexually confident women we've seen onscreen in ages, which makes you realize that Hollywood just does not seem to like to show women who like to have sex without falling madly in love!

Where the film turns a little formulaic is in the inevitable change in Amy. Her father is ill, she is arguing with her sister over his care, she realizes she does love doctor Aaron and ends up changing to please him. It is just a little bit neat and conventional. I'm not sure if Amy Schumer's message is we all just need to meet the right man to settle down with, but it kind of is the film's. Her commitment free sex life is shown as rather bogus and when she tries to return to a casual hook up with a co-worker, it goes disastrously wrong. See kids, it is true love that works!
Still there is an awful lot of very funny material along the way. The appearance of those sports stars might have more meaning to a US audience - I know LeBron James' name and great to see Chris Evert in there - and with a rude line too! Didn't know if some of the others were real stars or just actors. However, James was a lot of fun. I especially liked the scene where he and Bill Hader play basketball and talk. James' hilariously superior height, strength and skill aren't commented on, it's just background for their conversation as Hader utterly fails to gain an inch.
Schumer - who also wrote the script - does a pretty decent job of also putting a fair bit of emotion into the father/daughters scenes too. I believe Schumer's own father has MS so I guess there are plenty of autobiographical elements. All of the performances are good. Special mention to Tilda Swinton for having an absolute ball as a fake tan fashionista bitch. Apparently Apatow and Schumer let her have free rein to be as outrageous looking as she wanted! Has Tilda Swinton ever been funny before?
The film is not without flaws; Doctor Aaron is far too perfect to still be single, the ending involving cheerleaders is no where near as funny as Schumer's 'Milk, Milk, Lemonade' sketch on her TV show (although also not as rude!) and it is a bit sentimental at times. Her TV show is sharper and more acerbic, while this big screen adventure is less threatening and more mainstream. However, I enjoyed it a lot, very funny film. 8/10

August 2015

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