Movie Review: Amy Schumer, ‘Trainwreck’ anything but a failure
Special to the Sun-Bonanza
* * * (B)
• Directed By Judd Apatow
• Starring Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, Brie Larson, Colin Quinn, Vanessa Bayer, Tilda Swinton, LeBron James, Mike Birbiglia, John Cena, Dave Attell, Norman Lloyd
• Rated R, Comedy, 125 minutes
Amy Schumer writes and stars in “Trainwreck,” a comedy loosely based on her life. But, it seems the point here is her depiction of a young, career-minded woman’s experience in the Big Apple.
Unwilling to limit her opportunities, Amy (played by Ms. Schumer), is antimonagomy. To that end, she drinks and carouses with any number of men, all of whom disappoint, whether in or out of the sack.
It isn’t that Amy is particularly philosophical. She’s snarky, and in her best imitation of perky, Amy is angry, shallow and drinks too much. A writer for a fictitious men’s magazine (with the nauseating name of “S’Nuff”), Amy’s comic take on her train wreck lifestyle leads to entertaining articles that include observations of her own escapades.
An early scene establishes that Amy’s behavior reflects an admonishment from her father, Gordon (Colin Quinn), whose marriage to Amy’s mother failed when Amy was 9.
To illustrate his assertion that monogamy is unrealistic, Dad offers his daughters this simple example, “Pretend from that now on you’re only allowed to play with one doll, no matter many others dolls you like.”
The problem with Amy’s life is not so much her lifestyle as it is her failure to enjoy it. Her lack of fulfillment constitutes the melancholy at the heart of Amy’s story. Her self-doubt is amplified when Amy falls for Aaron (Bill Hader), a nice, kinda nerdy sports doctor whom she interviews for “S’Nuff.”
Meanwhile, Amy frequently visits her dad, reluctantly forced into an assisted-care living facility by the progression of his multiple sclerosis. Yet, Dad remains true to himself, refusing to modify his hard-line views no matter his circumstances.
Amy is also a frequent visitor to her sister Kim (Brie Larson). Stepmother to a 10-year-old boy and pregnant, Kim’s family life is an off-putting example of settling down.
While taking potshots at everyone else, including nonwhites and professional cheerleaders, Amy’s jokes are also intensely self-critical. She’s neither conventionally pretty nor Hollywood thin, but while tripping around NYC wearing miniskirts and high heels, Amy uses her body to drive home points about our obsession with appearance.
She exposes most men and women as latently sexist, even those of us unaware that advertisers and movie directors have wormed unrealistic ideals into our expectations of males and females.
Directed by Judd Apatow, we can only smile at Amy’s love interest, Aaron, a sensitive, nurturing man trying not to let Amy push his buttons. However, Aaron seems callous compared to his touchy-feely best friend, LeBron James.
Like Woody Allen, Amy Schumer’s first script prompts us to think about ourselves. Although sometimes vulgar, she emerges as a unique, uncensored voice that deserves to be heard. We hear you, Amy, but sometimes, we need to cover our ears.
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