Trainwreck (2015)

I can’t decide whether or not I like Amy Schumer. I know she’s big fucking news at the moment and is supposedly changing the face of female comedy with every public appearance. I just don’t think I can be bothered. Women making jokes about sex, drugs and the fucking awful aspects of being a woman is, quite frankly, old news at this point. She’s just doing what a fuck ton of female comics are doing but is, for some reason, supposedly doing something really fucking noteworthy. Not to put her down, of course. She’s really fucking funny and she’s actually using her position to highlight some great points about sexual politics. She’s ticks many a feminist checklist. However, I still don’t see what supposedly makes her so fucking special. I don’t see why everyone made such a massive deal about her cliche sounding rom-com. My friend was desperate for me to watch it with her but the trailer just wore me out. We’ve seen it all before. I could have made one of those Michelin I-Spy books for the rom-com tropes that were waiting for us.

In Trainwreck, Amy Schumer makes her film debut playing Amy, a writer for a ridiculous men’s magazine who happily enjoys a promiscuous lifestyle indulging in men, weed and alcohol. The film opens with a young Amy and her sister being told by their philanderer father that “monogamy isn’t realistic” after his marriage to their mother breaks down. This is Schumer’s attempt to explain the grownup Amy’s behaviour: after all, an adult woman focusing on fun instead of family that can’t be explained away by an emotionally damaged childhood just isn’t something Hollywood wants to touch.

Of course, Amy’s not going to be forced to enjoy casual sex for long because, thanks to a work assignment, she is set to meet the perfect man. Despite hating sport, Amy is sent to get the scoop on dishy sports surgeon, Aaron (Bill Hader). Now you don’t need a fucking degree in romantic-comedies to know where this is going. Aaron is the complete antithesis to Amy: he loves his job, leads a healthy lifestyle and has only slept with three women (incidentally the same number of women Amy has had sex with). Although, he never judges Amy for her past and quickly falls for her.

The opening scenes of a young woman unashamedly living her life anyway she wants quickly transforms into montages of subway canoodling and comfy nights on the sofa. It’s the standard rom-com drudgery that makes you want to bash your fucking skull in. Aaron helps Amy with her aging and sick father and Amy supports Aaron’s work. It’s perfect.

Until it isn’t: this is a romantic-comedy after all. One little fight inevitably turns into a massive fight where the understanding Aaron suddenly starts to be less understanding. For a film that, in it’s opening scenes, set a precedent for subverting the genre, Trainwreck can’t wait to ‘fix’ Amy. The aspect of the film that is so interesting is the portrayal of a woman who openly fights against marriage and children and is unapologetic about her sexuality. We’ve seen Hollywood attempt this feat before (mostly starring Cameron Diaz or someone equally uninspiring). Thanks to Schumer’s script, Trainwreck got it right: until it goes back on itself.

Despite this fucking annoying trait, there is plenty to enjoy about Schumer’s film. Schumer herself is great in the lead role and plays well opposite the charming and stable Bill Hader. The supporting cast, like most Apatow productions, is fucking huge and mostly forgettable. There are a couple of shining lights thanks mostly to an unrecognisable Tilda Swinton as Amy’s boss and Brie Larson as her younger, happily married sister.

The film goes on way too long which means a large proportion of the jokes fall flat. Characters stay around way too long and are not worth the time given to them. Amy’s bigoted father (Colin Quinn), a homeless guy on her street (Dave Attell) and an irritating intern (Ezra Miller) are both dragged through the ringer only to just fail when it really matters. LeBron James gives a weirdly amazing performance but it clearly gave the filmmakers an undue amount of confidence. A scene starring a host of celebrities taking part in an intervention is one of many scenes that had no right making the final cut.

Despite this, there are several scenes that resonate well after the film ends. Schumer shows that she has some amount of dramatic potential within all the humour and Bill Hader once again gets to show an understated brilliance. The chemistry between the pair is great which means there is something comfortingly cheesey about the narrative. Yeah you know where it’s going but it’s so charming that you don’t fucking care. If only it were slightly shorter and slightly less ambitious.

The main problem I have with Trainwreck, and Amy Schumer with it, is the fucking hype. We’re constantly being told that Trainwreck is breaking down gender boundaries because Amy Schumer’s script is turning every Hollywood cliche on its head. It does this because, instead of a man rejecting commitment by getting drunk and fucking a bunch of randoms, we have a woman who’s afraid to love. Not a new idea by any stretch and certainly an idea that has been done a hell of a lot better. Any work this Schumer does in changing the world is forgotten as soon as Amy decides to be a better person for Aaron.

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