What a time it is to be Amy Schumer.
In what seems like overnight success, Schumer has ascended to a high-ranking position in the stand-up comedy world after coming in fourth place on “Last Comic Standing”. After years on the road, Schumer got her own sketch show, “Inside Amy Schumer”, on Comedy Central (which earned her acting, writing and directing Emmy nominations this past week).
If things weren’t already going so great for Schumer, she now has her first starring film role in a Judd Apatow film. After hearing her on “The Howard Stern Show”, Apatow approached Schumer about collaborating on a film. Schumer penned the “Trainwreck” screenplay and Apatow directed it, a first for the director, who always writes his own screenplays that he directs.
But one must wonder how much influence Apatow had on Schumer’s screenplay. If you are familiar with Schumer’s comedy, she has brought her brash brand of humor to the screen in a script that is plagued with what has kept Apatow films from being truly great (I’m a big fan of “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and “Knocked Up” but they aren’t without their problems). Apatow has a tendency to keep us in scenes for far too long, well past the punch line. We’ve always griped about his movies being too long for comedies (“This is 40” clocks in at 134 minutes!). These issues bring “Trainwreck” down.
Maybe Schumer studied a lot of Apatow’s work when writing her first screenplay and was influenced by his rambling storytelling. Her script has some laughs but I never found myself laughing uncontrollably like in some of Apatow’s earliest works. Still, there is a freshness to Schumer’s presence, an excitement of seeing our next big star get a feel for feature films.
She stars as Amy, an onscreen manifestation of Schumer’s real life persona. The character Amy works at a shallow magazine called S’nuff, where she is hoping to get a promotion. Her editor (the wonderful Tilda Swinton) assigns her a piece on a sports doctor named Aaron (Bill Hader).
Amy has issues with commitment, having been told by her father (Colin Quinn) that monogamy is not realistic. Amy is all about one-night stands and having a good time out with friends. Things start to change when she spends more time interviewing Aaron for her article. It’s new for Amy and it’s scary.
Schumer’s performance is the true pleasure of this movie. Many have branded her a “sex comic” because she typically discusses her sexual history and affection for Plan B in her sets. “Trainwreck” gives her an opportunity to flex some acting muscles and she is convincing in some of the film’s more serious and heartfelt moments, espcially with her father and younger sister (played by Brie Larson). The dramatic stuff in the movie hits more than comedy.
Schumer and Hader make for an interesting pair on paper and work well together. They wield an awkward but comfortable chemistry, which makes their relationship on screen more believable. Hader is an underrated actor, who has so much more to him than his “Saturday Night Live” sketches may suggest. Last year’s “The Skelton Twins” was very revealing to Hader’s acting abilities. The two comics share some of the comedic spotlight with unlikely supporting players such as LeBron James, who plays himself and Aaron’s best friend. John Cena scores some laughs as Amy’s kind-of boyfriend.
I’m excited to see what Schumer does next in the world of feature films. She shows confidence and glimpses of something great but too much of “Trainwreck” feels perfunctory rather than substantial.
‘Trainwreck’ rates 6 out of 10