Amy Schumer, America’s new R-rated sweetheart, wrote and stars in what should be her break-out film, “Trainwreck,” playing a sweeter and funnier version of the comic persona she’s created.
She plays a woman who has taken Dad’s “Monogamy isn’t realistic” speech (delivered when she was about 5) to heart. Amy Townsend has grown up to live the love life of a player, a hit it and quit it who drinks too much, smokes too much weed, wakes up in a lot of strange beds and is long past the day when she thought anything of a “walk of shame.”
She’s doing it the way guys (in the movies, at least) dream of doing it — sex without commitment, purely for sport and pleasure. Her muscled boyfriend (wrestler and comic marvel John Cena) doesn’t know they’re in an open relationship until after he’s humiliated himself attempting the “dirty talk” she so covets during sex.
“You can’t spell VICTORY without ‘T.R.Y.’!”
Amy writes for “S’Nuff” magazine, a lad mag given to cover stories like “You’re not gay, she’s boring,” and the impact of garlic on the taste of semen. Tilda Swinton plays her self-absorbed Brit-boss, the one who sends her out to profile the surgeon to the sports stars, Dr. Aaron Connors. Bill Hader plays this guy like a deer caught in Schumer’s omnivorous headlights — scared, shocked, overwhelmed, smitten.
Brie Larson is the sister who’s opted for the conventional life — husband, “Big Bang” nerdy stepson, a real disappointment to Amy.
And Colin Quinn is the Dad, who like the real Amy Schumer’s father, suffers from Multiple Sclerosis and is in assisted living. But not without a fight.
Schumer’s not-model-thin-s0-what swagger shimmers through every scene, even the ones where she’s straining too hard to top the last one liner. She hates sports, and notes that her doctor/interview subject treats “a lot of black people.” Is she racist?
“I like black people! I PREFER black people!”
She’s perfect as the bull in the china shop at her sister’s baby shower, the reporter who never hesitates to cross the line and bed the people she’s interviewing, the woman who has never let herself get emotionally entangled with a guy. Best of all, she’s not some caricature of a “train wreck” or “semi-hot mess.” She’s made this woman real, flawed, funny and carnal.
Director Judd Apatow still lets every single scene run too long, past its payoff, past the point where it’s funny. The opening reporters’ “pitch meeting” stumbles on and on, a finale involving cheerleading routines exhausts its possibilities. The minutes add up and this unconventionally conventional 90 minute rom-com stretches to two hours plus.
But Colin Quinn, who has never been funny in a movie before, scores laughs.
Tilda Swinton, tanned and coarse and ready for action, kills.
Cena is hilarious, Hitchcock veteran Norman Lloyd steals scenes with funny lines in the assisted living facility, and comic Dave Attell zings as the witty homeless guy living on Amy’s stoop.
And Lebron James, playing himself, practically steals the movie. Playing it straight, “concerned” and split-the-check cheap around his go-to surgeon, you can see Hader fight back the laughs as he stares down King James in some moments.
Schumer, writing and performing a character close to the one she’s been presenting to the public, may never be this funny again, but funny she is. If she’s lucky, she’ll graduate from that edgy but clumsy and coarse TV show, the Comedy Central one propped up by ads for phone-sex lines. R-rated or not, she’s America’s sweetheart –2015 edition.
Cast: Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, Colin Quinn, John Cena, Tilda Swinton
Credits: Directed by Judd Apatow, script by Amy Schumer. A Universal release.
Running time: 2:05