There was a moment, right at the end of “Inside Amy Schumer” and just after “Trainwreck” blew up, that it seemed everybody wanted to be in the Amy Schumer business.
Make a movie with her, talk her into a stand-up special, write her checks, let her pick her (The retired, but NOT for Amy, Goldie Hawn.) co-star in her next movie, “Snatched.”
She’s had the option of trying to reach beyond her core “Cruder than Sarah Silverman” fanbase, those who love her for the raunch, the graphic and crude Big Girl Who Loves Her Some Sex persona she created pre-“Trainwreck,” who then became Queen of Comedy when the Judd Apatow production blew up.
But is that moment passing? Like, right now?
And now she’s rich.
Before the reviews of her latest, “I Feel Pretty,” came out, she spent weeks playing defense, playing up the “backlash” that the trailer induced, coloring perceptions of her latest not-thin/still confident and sexy farce. As in “I’m talking about this because there’s nothing else to talk about regarding my movie.”
Those reviews? Mixed. I was a little more generous than some,more generous than some, but maybe “sweet” and Drew Barrymore-ish is not her sweet spot. That’s what you get when you hire Team “Never Been Kissed” to write and direct you.
Box office projections are on the low side. Will she clear $20? $17-18 seems a safer guess. And with another damned “Avengers” movie opening shortly, the window for this one to take “Blockers” money and make bank is tiny.
She collected a big payday from third tier studio STX for “Pretty,” and then didn’t screen it until the last minute. She’s doing all the press for the picture, taking ownership of it and as I said, playing defense. But should she?
If Chris Tucker taught us nothing, it’s that getting rich and earning too much indulgence from Hollywood — “What? What do you want to do? We’ll MAKE that movie!” — can be a career killer. “Hungry” is the word we attach to comics we take to. Once you’re not “hungry,” you’re self-satisfied. “See Carrey, Jim,” or most of his peers. The ones with Will Ferrell longevity are as rare as big screen comic actresses who manage a run as long as Meg Ryan’s.
Waiting for one of Orlando’s “I Feel Pretty” previews Wed., I chatted with theater staff, who shrugged her off, security guards and other patrons who gave me the “Meh” look, and others who simply find the polarizing comic not to their taste.
The people she’s reaching out to, away from her core audience, aren’t interested. And will the faithful be pleased with PG-13 Amy? Without Apatow around, is she quick witted and assertive enough and willing to go “out there” to get laughs without a strong “best joke wins” writing staff, and challenging co-stars?
Aidy Bryant and the co-director’s wife Busy Philips are no threat to upstage her, and Schumer needs that John Cena/Goldie or whoever to push her to find something funnier than “amusing enough, I suppose.”
You didn’t need #MeToo to know that Hollywood is hardest on young women, disposing of them once the novelty wears off and the audience gives studio check-writers even half an excuse to send them packing off to cable.
And as I track the lackluster web traffic on my review, and others, I wonder if Schumer’s run as Queen of the Comic Hard Candy Mountain isn’t flagging, even as the plus-size star she’s most-often compared to (Melissa McCarthy) gets her comic second wind.
In any event, keep an eye on the box office this weekend. If “Pretty” opens big, she’s re-established her clout. And she could. She has a fanbase, and women may be up for a picture about “Don’t let the low self-esteem demons win.”
But anything under $15, and it’s “Uh oh.”