Review: Insightful ‘Trainwreck’ tackles modern love

Tom Long
The Detroit News

The good news — and it is very good news — about “Trainwreck” is it stars and was written by Amy Schumer and is every bit as ribald, incisive and laugh-out-loud funny as it should be.

The less good, but hardly disastrous, news is the film was directed by Judd Apatow and reflects his tendencies to go a bit too long with comedies while inserting awkward cameos.

Still, Schumer, with the support of a crackerjack cast, carries the day and then some, while exploring the complications of modern love, the contradictions of sexual identity and the worth of family in bit after hilarious bit.

Amy plays Amy, who, in the film’s opening scene, sits alongside her sister as young girls, listening to her fast-talking father (Colin Quinn) explain why monogamy can never work with unnerving logic. Fast forward 20 years and Amy has taken Daddy’s proclamations to heart as a queen of one-night stands (there are four actors in the film’s credits listed as “One Night Stand Guy”).

She beds them and leaves them and that is that. Meanwhile Dad now has MS and lives in a nursing home while managing to be as offensive as ever, and Amy’s younger sister, Kim (Brie Larson), is settled down with a husband (Mike Birbiglia) and son (Evan Brinkman) whose appeal Amy doesn’t get.

Amy makes her living writing vaguely scuzzy articles for a vaguely scuzzy magazine where she works for an imperious editor (a barely recognizable Tilda Swinton, effortlessly proving she can do anything) and alongside her like-minded friend Nikki (Vanessa Bayer). Amy also has a when-it’s-convenient boyfriend (John Cena) who’s unaware of her other amorous activities.

She meets orthopedic surgeon Aaron Conners (Bill Hader), sports doctor to superstars and best buddy to Lebron James (Lebron James), when she’s assigned to do a story on Conners. And soon enough, she’s bedded him, as well. But then something strange happens: He spends the night (that never happens) and calls her the next day, at Lebron’s urging, to ask her out.

What is he, some kind of mad stalker?

“I’m calling the police,” Nikki says.

But Amy stops her, realizing that she might actually like this guy. And so begins a romance, with Amy trying to ignore her father’s words of warning.

The stunt casting of Cena and especially James (who’s too cheap to pick up dinner checks) works well, but a later scene that suddenly drops Matthew Broderick, Marv Albert and Chris Evert into the movie falls flat as Apatow stretches things too far. On the other hand, a background movie with Daniel Radcliffe and Marisa Tomei about professional dogwalking is just strange enough to click.

The structure of “Trainwreck” is straight romantic comedy, with the usual up-down-up dynamic. It’s the bits that Schumer brings to the form — the observations, the asides and the naked truths — that lift the movie. The absolute best thing about this film, aside from Schumer’s strong, smart voice, is the promise of more to come. This lady’s just getting started.



Rated R for strong sexual content, nudity, language and some drug use

Running time: 125 minutes