If you are not yet aware of the comedic phenomenon that is Amy Schumer, then where the heck have you been? Schumer is one of the funniest, up-and-coming stand-up comics out there, who over the past couple years has slowly scratched her way towards relevancy. Her “schtick,” of being a loose, foul-mouthed slut borrows from those that came before, like Lisa Lampanelli and even Joan Rivers. She falls more closely in line though with Sarah Silverman, whose dirty and shocking comedic style is off-set by her cuteness and presumed innocence. Schumer’s promiscuous persona is definitely aided by the fact that she is not the fat, butt-ugly girl that she pretends to be. But in her humor, we identify with her poor self-image and we appreciate her honest, refreshing take on sex from the female perspective.
But for those that follow Schumer or have seen her comedy (including her very funny sketch-comedy show on Comedy Central, Inside Amy Schumer), truth be told, her act was beginning to wear thin. Her material always centers around the same topic: The fact that she plays up her love of sex and is sort of a bad person. There are only so many ways you can spin it before it becomes uninteresting.
That brings us to Trainwreck (now in theaters), the big-screen manifestation of Amy Schumer’s increasingly-tired stand-up act. Schumer plays “Amy,” who from a very young age is taught by her father (Colin Quinn) that monogamy is a complete joke and unrealistic. Despite receiving this message along with her sister, Kim (Brie Larson), the two grow up on completely separate paths: Kim is married with a kid, while Amy has basically turned into her stand-up character. She has sex with anybody she can but makes it a rule never to stay the night, even though once in a while she breaks her own rules, waking up confused and shamed on Staten Island (its one thing to make a “mistake,” but to “accidentally” hop a ferry??).
She works for a smutty, TMZ-style magazine with her like-minded friend (the lovely and under-rated SNL’er, Vanessa Bayer), and her crass boss (the unrecognizable Tilda Swinton), who assigns her to do an expose-piece on a successful sports doctor, Aaron (Bill Hader). Aaron’s best friend is LeBron James (Labron James) and when Amy first meets Aaron, something very strange happens. She actually sort of likes him.
This film is undeniably a Judd Apatow film: It isn’t just a comedy, as it mixes in some dramatic elements as well. It’s a bit over-long and a bit over-stuffed. And its also damned funny. But moreover, its the absolute perfect vehicle for Amy Schumer, who through her character in this movie, finally ascends past her stand-up act. Her character grows and matures…OK, maybe not matures, but she does grow. She even shows some dramatic chops during one scene and carries the scene quite well. Trainwreck starts with what we know of Amy Schumer and by the end, we realize that she is more than a funny comic…she could just be a budding super-star.
She is helped immensely by a great supporting cast, led by Bill Hader, who in is own right, is carving out quite the career path. He has the comedic power and rubbery-face to go the Jim Carrey route, but in his last two performances (this and the wonderful The Skeleton Twins), he tones it down just enough to be effective. He then can turn it up a notch whenever he wants, making him one of the funniest people currently in Hollywood. Besides Hader, we expect Brie Larson to be great, but how about Colin Quinn, wrestler John Cena and yes, even LeBron James, turning in funny supporting performances? Look also for a slew of Schumer’s stand-up friends to make appearances, from Dave Attell, to Mike Birbiglia, to Bobby Kelly.
The film definitely has problems – like, what in the heck does Aaron see in Amy, who is truly an awful person through much of the film? – but it is funny enough that it makes up for most wrong-doings by the end. Shumer’s cheesy-romantic end number – where she performs with some cheerleaders – is pitch-perfect and funny, but I couldn’t help but think during that scene, wow, she can truly do anything.
Trainwreck may not be the best comedy of the year, or a perfect film, but it is an important film in that it is the last time anyone will ever ask, “who is Amy Schumer?” She has arrived, and better yet, she’s now shed her stand-up caricature of herself…and is now poised to really take off.
Run Time: 2 hours, 5 minutes, Rated R
Starring: Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, Tilda Swinton, Brie Larson, Colin Quinn, LeBron James
Written by Amy Schumer
Directed by Judd Apatow (This is 40, Funny People, Knocked Up, The 40-Year-Old-Virgin)
Opens locally on Friday, July 17, 2015 (check for show times).