Trainwreck REVIEW: “Trainwreck” is raunchy sweet fun

With a little help from director Judd Apatow, Amy Schumer at last brings her brand of comedy, the brand that’s made her sketch comedy TV series on Comedy Central’s “Inside Amy Schumer”, to the big screen with Trainwreck, her first lead role in a film. Fans of Schumer’s prior comedy work on TV and on stage will no doubt love Trainwreck, as it her movie and her voice through and through, but more importantly, if you weren’t a fan of Schumer’s or not familiar with her work going into this movie, you most likely will be one coming out. It’s uproariously funny while also honest and realistic in its treatment of relationships, both romantic and familial, as well as the trials and expectations faced by single women today in their personal and professional lives. More often than not, it looks and feels true as it’s making you laugh out loud and occasionally cringe, something that so few comedies outside of what Apatow produces time and again actually manage to do.

Schumer plays Amy, an on-the-rise writer for an “edgy” men’s magazine, living what she considers to be the ideal life for a big city girl: great job, great apartment, great social life relatively free of any significant commitments. She, along with her younger sister Kim (Brie Larson), had one life lesson above all drilled into their heads as kids by their cad of a dad, Gordon (Colin Quinn): “Monogamy is unrealistic.” While Kim basically ignored that advice and as an adult loves being a wife and a mother, Amy wholeheartedly embraced the message once she was old enough to understand it, and thus her nightly routine is a seemingly endless string of drunken one-night-stands and morning walks-of-shame; or more accurately, it’s her routine when she’s not out with the guy she’s seeing steadily, Steven (John Cena), who’s blissfully unaware of her extracurricular activities, among other things.

See where the title of the movie comes from?

Right around the same time that Steven gets wise to Amy’s wandering eye and puts an end to their relationship, she gets assigned by her rather terrifying editor Dianna (Tilda Swinton) a story she couldn’t be less interested in, a profile of Dr. Aaron Connors (Bill Hader), a New York surgeon and sports medicine specialist who routinely works with professional athletes to get them back in the game after career-threatening injuries. Turns out, however, that while she knows nothing about sports and she finds what Aaron does retch-inducing when she has the opportunity to observe him at work, she actually hits it off with him once they spend some time together off the clock. When much to Aaron’s surprise she goes home with him after dinner and a few drinks, she’s absolutely floored when he calls her the next day (on purpose!) and asks to spend time with her again. Despite her best efforts to avoid it, Aaron’s awkward but earnest persistence wins her over, and suddenly there she is, being someone’s actual girlfriend — and not cheating on them behind their back, either.


While Kim couldn’t be more thrilled that Amy might be settling down, and Aaron’s close friends, among them former patient LeBron James (playing himself), are glad to see the good doctor finding happiness, Amy finds herself both elated and terrified. After all, this is what dear old Dad told her never to do back in the day and continues to preach, given the opportunity. Could Gordon have been wrong? Or is this thing just doomed to fail like it seemingly does with everyone else, the way she’s always believed relationships fail and are thus not worth the time and effort? As Amy and Aaron’s relationship starts to hit some speed bumps, that question comes to the forefront and puts her lifelong commitment to non-commitment to the ultimate test.

To put together the script for Trainwreck, Schumer drew inspiration from her own life and personal experiences, and thus much of what audiences get in the film feels authentic, albeit pushed to an often hilarious extreme. While this does in a way provide Schumer with an opportunity to basically play herself in her own story, she does show considerable emotional range as the story goes to some unexpected places and Amy the character comes to terms with what she’s feeling for Aaron as well as some other significant life challenges and heartbreaks. It speaks very highly of her talents both as a writer and a performer that she can both craft and deliver depictions of such personal material in a way that still resonates, still feels universal. It’s that feeling of authenticity, that feeling that we all know someone like this, as the tagline of the film insists, someone either not self-aware enough to know how self-destructive their social and relationship patterns are OR who know and just don’t care or avoid dealing with it because it takes more effort than they want to put in, that is behind the true appeal and strength of the film. You’re either going to see yourself or someone you know in Amy and what she’s doing, and more than likely you’re going to love her for it.

But audiences may just love Trainwreck for the work the supporting players put in here as much as they do for Schumer. Hader proves to be a perfect blend of earnest charm and goofiness playing opposite Schumer — his take on Aaron makes him the last guy you might assume would catch Amy’s eye if you knew her in real life, which makes the pairing all the more fun to watch come together. But it’s the professional athletes who deserve major props for the comic work they turn in here: LeBron James proves he can do more in front of the camera than just clever commercials, while John Cena (yes, the current WWE champ, that one!), who’s done plenty of direct-to-video action work but not a whole lot of comedy, completely owns some of the film’s funniest moments in the early going as the sweet-but-sort-of-confused Steven. Watch for one very awkward sex scene where Amy tries to encourage Steven to kick things up a notch with cringeworthy results, or in a separate scene when the two get called out for talking too loudly in a movie and things escalate quickly:

“Hey, Mark Wahlberg! Shut up!”

“Mark Wahlberg? Mark Wahlberg’s like 150 lbs! I look like Mark Wahlberg ate Mark Wahlberg!”

Is a bit predictable? Sure it is, but by the time things get around to their predictable conclusion (yes, this is an Apatow film, so it tends to run a little longer than it needs to get the point across — see This is 40), everything and everyone in Trainwreck has most likely charmed you and made you laugh to the point where you’re not going to care. That is, as long as you like your comedy R-rated and raunchy — if you don’t, then by all means, steer clear. Simply put, Trainwreck is very much that friend or relative that has no filter when it comes to what they talk about or the stories they tell. If you love that person dearly and love being around them for the craziness that inevitably ensues, you should be all in for this movie.

If you avoid that person at every opportunity because they’ll never fail to embarrass you, then look elsewhere for entertainment this weekend, like maybe the Disney Channel.

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. Directed by Judd Apatow.
Running Time: 125 minutes
Rated R for strong sexual content, nudity, language and some drug use.

Felix Albuerne
Felix Albuerne
One-time Blockbuster Video manager, textbook editor, trivia host, and community college English/Humanities teacher. Now a digital media producer, part-time film critic, amateur foodie, semi-retired beer snob, unabashed geek, and still very much a work in progress.