In most modern studio-backed movies, subtlety is not something to be reckoned with, as it might go over many audience members’ heads. Recent movies like “Max” and “The Gallows” have been completely devoid of any sense of subtlety, almost literally spelling things out for the audience as the film trekked on. A recent comedy, “Spy,” didn’t feature too much subtlety either, but its lack of subtlety was completely made up for with each rolling gut-busting joke, one after the other.
The television show “Inside Amy Schumer,” written by and starring Schumer, mimics shows like Saturday Night Live, but puts an incredibly politically incorrect twist on it. When I heard that Schumer has penned a film that she is to star in, I assumed that the film would be a no holds barred narrative reminiscent of her wonderful television show.
I’ll admit to being wrong on this one. “Trainwreck” is a great film, but far more subtle in delivering laughs than one might expect from a film with Schumer, as well as far more dramatic. Schumer leads the film as Amy, a thirty-something journalist living in New York, hooking up with random men and drinking and smoking her face off daily. When Amy is tasked with writing a profile on a sports doctor, played by the wonderful Bill Hader, she finds that he might be the one to save her from her soon to be depressing ways.
Sure, the film sounds cheesy, but if you know anything about Schumer, you know that the film is anything but, as it delves deep into the issues of feminism, masculinity, the nuclear family, among other things. What surprised me about “Trainwreck” though was the subtlety of the jokes. Schumer is such a clever comedian that the jokes presented in “Trainwreck” sometimes take a few seconds to register in your brain before you can laugh, and I assure you, you will laugh.
One of the more entertaining aspects about the film was the incredibly unique casting choices in the film, from Ezra Miller as the geeky journalism intern (a.k.a. Hunter in two years), LeBron James as … LeBron James and Tilda Swinton, virtually unrecognizable to anyone not already familiar with her role in the film, playing a character you would never expect her to play in a film you would never expect her to be in. James does fine work as himself as well, playing wonderfully with Hader for some killer laughs, showing off both of their sensitive sides in such a testosterone fueled world.
Judd Apatow directs “Trainwreck” unlike I’ve seen in a modern comedy, with a gritty, almost indie feel to the film, evoking something out of Sundance more than anything. Apatow utilizes 35mm over digital in this film, really giving the rough side of New York City that Amy lives on much more texture and life than if it was shot digitally. Apatow and Schumer fill out the New York setting beautifully, actually justifying the usage of the city rather than simply using its icon status as justification like every other movie ever made does.
“Trainwreck,” while funny, goes into some pretty dark territory at times, really showcasing Schumer as not only a great screenwriter of both comedy and drama, but also a talented dramatic actress. At 125 minutes, the film sometimes drags through some prolonged dramatic scenes, but rebounds back into a smile inducing final act. For such a newcomer to the scene, Schumer plays better than some of the pro’s that have been around for decades, just with her offensive twist, and if there’s anything I love, it’s offensive, but non-malicious humor. Guilty as charged.
“Trainwreck” is anything but one, utilizing the best that Schumer has to offer, as well as working its expansive and talented cast as well, which also includes smaller roles from Vanessa Bayer, Colin Quinn, Brie Larson, Mike Birbiglia, Dave Attell, John Cena, as well as cameos from Method Man, Marisa Tomei, Daniel Radcliffe, Tim Meadows and basketball superstar Amar’e Stoudemire (If I’ve heard of him, he’s big.) When someone as fresh on the scene as Schumer can assemble a cast as insanely impressive as this, in a film as layered and genuine as this one is, really proves how incredibly talented she is as an entertainer in the highest form.
Did the film make me hurt from laughing like “Spy” did? No, as the film utilized a quieter approach to its humor, but Apatow and Schumer have created a beautiful, offensive, touching and overall incredibly uplifting comedy experience overall. All hail Queen Amy.
Directed by: Judd Apatow
Starring: Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, Brie Larson, Colin Quinn, John Cena, Vanessa Bayer, Mike Birbiglia, Ezra Miller, Dave Attell, with Tilda Swinton and LeBron James.
Runtime: 125 minutes
Rating: R for strong sexual content, nudity, language and some drug use.
Universal Pictures presents, an Apatow production, a Judd Apatow film, “Trainwreck”