Trainwreck

Amy Schumer seemed to pop out of nowhere a few months ago, all of a sudden gaining publicity and popularity for her sketch show.  She seems to be this summer’s “it girl”, something I’m not at all complaining about.  I find her comedy unique and fresh, even though the content itself isn’t necessarily all that new.  As a first film, Trainwreck is definitely a success, and I enjoyed it more than I expected.

Amy Schumer definitely has her own voice, and this movie is all hers, despite being directed by Judd Apatow.  She is biting and unapologetic, with a stark refusal to be ashamed by her characters’ flaws.  She allows her character to own her position, and sensitively portrays her realizations about life, love, and family.  Now, on first glance that last part about sensitivity may not seem to describe this film, but she engages with some fairly poignant subject material, in a believable and relatable way.  Trainwreck ended up being far more emotional than I expected, with a fair amount of on-screen (…and in-theatre) tears.  For example, I can’t recall a funeral scene so effectively carried out in a comedy – it is raw and emotional, with just the right amount of humour inserted to keep with the spirit of the film.

Trainwreck’s writing, while not necessarily all original, is pretty solid, especially considering it is Schumer’s first feature length script.  Some parts sounded oddly familiar, and I realized they were directly lifted out of a stand-up routine – this is more surprising than concerning, but having watched a good amount of her stand-up recently this definitely stood out.  Interestingly, the few jokes that fell flat seemed to be ones that were thrown into the middle of a scene and didn’t fit – not that they weren’t funny, rather they just didn’t mesh with the context.  I think this is a result of unideal pacing, and I’ll be interested to see if this aspect of her writing improves in her next feature.

Excellent co-stars, from Bill Hader to Tilda Swinton to, yes, LeBron James, really benefitted this movie.  Hader was toned down from what we’ve come to expect from him, and while he played true to his character I wish he was been utilized just a bit more.  I would be remiss if I did not praise Tilda Swinton, who, as usual, was flawless – she brings her own unique and hilarious twist to the stereotypical biting, uncaring boss, and I roared laughing with nearly every line.  LeBron James, however, was the surprise hit of the film, bouncing jokes back and forth with Schumer and Hader like a pro.

Overall, Trainwreck is a satisfying and very funny summer flick.  Schumer plays the character well known from her stand-up routines – the downtrodden, unwittingly pained party girl – but by inserting her into fairly believable scenarios she creates a genuine, emotional story that just happens to be uproariously funny.  I can’t wait to see where Schumer’s career takes her, because if this first film is any indication, she will be making us laugh for years to come!

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