FILM REVIEW: ‘Trainwreck,’ a fabulous debut for comedienne Amy Schumer

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By Saturday, Aug 29 Arts & Entertainment
Amy Schumer and Bill Hader in 'Trainwreck,' now playing at the Beacon Cinema in Pittsfield, Mass.

Trainwreck

Starring: Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, LeBron James, Tilda Swinton, Mike Birgilia

Director: Judd Apatow

Script: Amy Schumer

I am a huge Amy Schumer fan. There it is — full disclosure. I was looking forward to this film all summer — combining Amy with Bill Hader (another favorite) and, of course, the great director, Judd Apatow. And “Trainwreck” did not disappoint.

The first film that Apatow directed but didn’t write is a hugely entertaining and touching film. Amy Schumer has written a hilarious NYC rom-com which turns that convention on its head. We have the promiscuous FEMALE who is being courted by a shy, really good guy, sweetly played by Bill Hader. We knew he was a tremendous comic but here he toned down his comic chops and went for vulnerable.

Amy Schumer and LeBron James.

Amy Schumer and LeBron James.

Semi-autobiographical, this film starts off with her father, Gordon, (hilariously played by Colin Quinn) lecturing his young daughters that “monogamy isn’t realistic.” (“Do you want to play with only ONE doll your whole life?”) It moves quickly through Amy’s wild dating life following her father’s dictum. There are many short “walk-ons” of her rejected one-night stands and also a brilliant bit with the unexpectedly funny WWE wrestler, John Cena, as her erstwhile “boyfriend.” (Kudos to the director for bringing out the comedian in John Cena and the fabulous LeBron James — who knew he was so funny? Is it fair that one of our greatest athletes of all time also has great comedic timing?) LeBron holds his own with Amy and Bill. In an interview, Judd Apatow found it frustrating that LeBron was talented in the comedic arena also. Not fair!!!!

Amy Townsend (our Amy) writes for a wonderfully lowbrow men’s magazine (aptly named S’nuff) which publishes such gems as, “You’re not gay — she’s boring” and “Ugliest celebrity kids under 6.” The editor (an almost unrecognizable Tilda Swinton) is played with total smarmy perfection and was given the chance to outdo Meryl Streep’s Anna Wintour in “The Devil Wears Prada.” And she does not come up short. When Tilda decided to give an assignment to Amy — interviewing a sports medicine doctor (perversely because she has no interest or knowledge of any sport) it sets Amy up for a real relationship. She tries to cover up her lack of knowledge with made-up teams she follows such as the “Orlando BLOOMS”! A shout out to Vanessa Bayer for her delicious routine when Amy confides that she slept over at the doctor’s apartment and then, horrors, he called the next morning. He must be a stalker!!! Who does that???

Amy displays some unexpected acting chops when the story gets a little darker. (As an aside, I recently happened to meet Amy’s acting teacher, William Esper, who raved about her acting ability.) She and her sister, Kim, (a touching Brie Larson) made some hard decisions regarding their father’s care and tears do flow. Apparently, Amy can do funny spectacularly well but can also bring out the sadness that she had been covering up.

Bill Hader, as a sports medicine physician, and Amy Schumer as the journalist Amy Townsend.

Bill Hader, as a sports medicine physician, and Amy Schumer as Amy Townsend, a writer for lowbrow men’s magazine.

There are scores of delicious bits in this movie — seeing it again will make you appreciate how well-constructed and jam-packed these bits are (and for the true Amy lovers you must check out “Inside Amy Schumer” on Comedy Central). The casting is superb — from her sister’s drab husband (Mike Birbiglia) and his equally strait-laced young son (Evan Brinkman) to the homeless man (Dave Attell) who serves as a Greek chorus for her “walks of shame” coming home early many mornings.

The movie is chock full of delicious cameos. For SNL fans — there is the youthful Pete Davidson, Leslie Jones (playing an irate subway rider), Tim Meadows, Vanessa Bayer and, of course, Colin Quinn. Keep a sharp eye peeled for Chris Evert, Marv Albert, Amar’e Stoudemire, Tony Romo, Matthew Broderick, Daniel Radcliffe, Marisa Tomei and even Method Man!

But the heart of the movie is the great pairing of Amy and Bill. The vulnerability they both show is what really makes their relationship seem believable. She has met her match — he sees through her lack of commitment and provides a loving counterpoint for her. As usual, in Apatow movies, we have the happy ending with characters realizing that true contentment comes with commitment. You are pulling for Amy throughout to find this love. It is the happy ending that you don’t mind seeing coming. But please more movies from Amy Schumer. This was a bold first movie which holds great promise from our favorite comedienne of the moment.

Trainwreck is playing at the Beacon Cinema in Pittsfield, Mass. For showtimes and tickets, click here.


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