PLOT: A boozy, oversexed New York writer who prides herself on not taking anything too seriously finds her life changing when she meets a good-natured doctor.
REVIEW: In TRAINWRECK, Amy Schumer plays a promiscuous, hard-drinking, frequently obnoxious journalist for a men's magazine who all but begs you to hate her guts. She's rude to her many male suitors, she's inconsiderate to her sweet sister's dorky husband and child, she's unwilling to recognize her bevy of shortcomings; she's a narcissist with a self-destructive streak. And, for anyone who has marveled at Schumer's terrific Comedy Central series can probably guess, it's the role the comedienne was born to play. Makes sense, she wrote it. Schumer delights in owning her not-approved-for-Hollywood appearance while giving anyone who doesn't like it the middle finger, and with TRAINWRECK she takes it to the next level by flaunting a character so contentious it's like she's attempting to bring her rise to fame to a grinding halt.
But that's precisely why the film works so wonderfully well. Directed by Judd Apatow - probably his best movie since his big screen debut, THE 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN - TRAINWRECK is unapologetic and lowbrow, sure to offend the easily offended. It's also surprisingly sweet and honest, not to mention hilarious. It doesn't quite subvert the romantic comedy formula as much as give it a boozy makeover. It boasts maybe the best cast for a big screen comedy I've seen in years, starting with its leading lady, who is simply so much fun to watch.
If you didn't quite get the hint that TRAINWRECK has an autobiographical side, you'll note Schumer plays a character named Amy. As a writer for a Maxim-like rag called S'nuff, Amy wastes her writing talents on lame articles under the scrutiny of a harsh British boss (Tilda Swinton, unrecognizable and amazing), and her latest assignment doesn't have her very excited, a profile on a renowned sports doctor (Bill Hader). Amy hates sports (as she'll tell anyone who'll listen) and the doctor is initially a bore. But Amy can't help herself from being Amy - that is to say, she'll sleep with any guy who spends more than ten minutes with her - and after a one-night stand with the doc, she's mortified to discover she's beginning to have feelings for the guy. This doesn't jibe with her usual one-and-done sensibilities, and her boorish ways might have to take a backseat to true love if she can contain them.
As a character, Amy is easy to dislike, but since the actress is so willing to lay it all out there, it's impossible to not be caught up in her various misdeeds. Schumer makes the transition from small to big screen star as easily as could have been hoped for. She also allows us to see a softer side in some of the movie's many semi-serious scenes, most of which take place between her and her sister (Brie Larson, also very good) and a few with her sickly father (Colin Quinn). Like all of Apatow's movies, TRAINWRECK balances comedy and drama without too heavy of a hand, with even the dramatic moments tinged with a streak of wicked sarcasm. Schumer's script is actually quite a perfect fit for the director, and he the perfect director for her brand of forthright humor.
TRAINWRECK is Schumer's show through and through, but whenever she's not on screen, Apatow populates the frame with an absolutely exceptional ensemble. We might have predicted some of the castmembers would shine - Swinton is excellent as a cold Anna Wintour-type, and Hader is as charming as he's ever been - but there are several surprises to be found. LeBron James is getting a lot of press for his engagingly weird portrayal of himself, and rightly so; the basketball star allows his persona to be given an amusingly oblivious spin. John Cena has a great supporting role as Amy's kinda-sorta boyfriend at the beginning of the film; he's a musclebound dork with a fragile heart and a penchant for saying all the wrong things. Quinn really excels as Amy's acerbic father, an alcoholic with MS whose cheating, drinking ways foreshadowed Amy's own selfish tendencies. There are a handful of other cameos I wouldn't want to give away, but keep your eyes peeled for the very funny intervention sequence.
Apatow has bounced back in a big way here, returning to the bawdy, unpretentious sense of fun that put him on the map with THE 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN and KNOCKED UP. He still has the issue of letting a joke run well past its expiration, and at a little over two hours, TRAINWRECK is definitely too long by maybe 10-15 minutes. Apatow loves his comedic bits, that has always been clear, but he still hasn't learned when to scale them back. Still, most of TRAINWRECK moves with a reasonably snappy pace, buoyed by actors with superb comic timing.
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