TRAINWRECK. Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, Brie Larson, Colin Quinn, LeBron James, John Cena. Directed by Judd Apatow. 125 minutes. MA15+ (Strong sex scenes, sexual references and coarse language).
Anything but a trainwreck in its execution, this comedy from writer-star Amy Schumer (the humourist and viral internet sensation) may portray some dubious lifestyle choices, but it has laughs to spare and tonnes of heart.
Amy Townsend (Amy Schumer) is a New York local in her early thirties. She’s terrifically happy with her nice apartment, great job at S’Nuff (a fictional men’s magazine – think any conservative individual’s worst nightmare) and boyfriend Steven (John Cena). However, Amy has a problem – ever since her parents’ divorce cemented in her a belief that ‘monogamy’s not realistic’, she entertains a stable of lovers on a regular basis. Her promiscuity is doing her emotional damage, ending her relationship, and her self-sabotaging ways and penchant for alcohol add further fuel to the fire.
Through her work, Amy meets Dr Aaron Conners (Bill Hader), a sports physician to a number of NYC’s finest professional athletes (naturally leading to a swag of great cameos). The two hit it off, and to her surprise Amy finds herself falling in love, despite her aversion to serious dalliances. With her father (Colin Quinn) now living in a retirement home, and her younger sister Kim (Brie Larson) married and pregnant, Amy’s life is seriously complicated, and it will naturally only get more so.
Amy Schumer’s script is hilarious, dripping with wit and one-liners. It has an underlying goofiness and sweetness which serve to soothe the more incendiary jokes, and the screenplay’s surprising depth and moments of heartbreak offer an emotional connection to the characters beyond the humour. Director Judd Apatow, the man behind some of the more sensitive examples of the last decade’s swathe of ‘sex comedies’, walks a tricky tonal tightrope between bawdy and melodrama, but he and editor Paul Zucker have crafted a well-balanced cut.
The cast all display terrific comedic timing, which is not a surprise when one considers that the majority of them are primarily comedians (or at least comedic actors and actresses). Schumer and Hader delve beyond their comedy roots to deliver some affecting dramatic work too. However, an unrecognisable Tilda Swinton – playing Amy’s boss at the magazine – also shows off great comic ability, and athletes LeBron James (star player for the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers) and John Cena (former professional wrestler cum occasional action star) both earn some of the biggest laughs, and deliver surprisingly convincing emotional turns.
The film marks Schumer as a talent very much on the rise. With the right people in front of and behind the camera, her first foray into film is well worth the price of admission (provided you’re not turned off by the ‘mature audiences’ rating).
Callum Ryan is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.
Out July 30.