If not for all the sexual situations, sailor-salty language, and drug use, we all would see Amy Schumer’s “Trainwreck” for what it is: A good, old-fashioned conversion story that goes beyond mere romantic comedy to touch the very heart of human nature.
If you like very funny, very R-rated comedies, “Trainwreck” is one of the best and well worth watching.
Comedienne Amy Schumer, who wrote the script, plays a girl named….Amy. In the olden days before trigger warnings and Twitter outrages, we would have called Amy a slut. She gleefully has sex with any guy who catches her non-discriminating eye, drinks like a Viking on spring break, and puffs away on Mary Jane like she’s Pete’s Dragon. Amy is happy with her life, mostly happy—well, what is happiness anyway?
The point is, she’s not looking to change. Nor should she, necessarily. One of the strong points of this film is that Schumer makes you love Amy, even when she acts horribly. Part of that is the humor—she’s very funny—and part is just celebrating the humanity of a girl who takes life by the horns and rides the wild ride.
Amy Schumer Before Love
Equally strong is how director Judd Apatow and Schumer round out Amy and her world. She works at a magazine that “teaches men how to be men,” mostly by giving them tips about masturbation and articles on boobs (but they use a more crude word). Led by an unrecognizable Tilda Swinton (no really, it’s her!), the crew at the magazine is gloriously condescending, subtly backstabbing, and deeply disturbing. They’re perfect.
Amy and her sister Kim (Brie Larson) care for their hedonistic, unapologetically offensive, womanizing father (Colin Quinn). He’s ailing and fighting every step of the way. Kim and Amy snipe and adore each other as only sisters can do.
So Amy’s already got a lot on her plate when she meets and beds a sports doctor named Aaron (Bill Hader). She thinks it will be sexytime business as usual, but she’s wrong. He’s the one that upsets her whole free-love, my-life-my-way applecart—because, as the movie points out, if you don’t try, you can’t fail. For the first time, Amy wants to try and, for the first time, she’s scared of failing.
The Trouble With Love
It’s not so much that Amy and Aaron fall in love—yes, that happens—it’s that Amy hits a place where she realizes the whole kit and caboodle isn’t working for her. None of it—the drinking, the drugs, the sex, the nastiness to family, the snide awesome job—works. She wants more. In the olden times, we’d call that a Come-to-Jesus moment.
Instead of love saving the day, as it would in your average rom-com, Amy must become a better person to be someone who can enter into the love she wants. That is a profound statement. For Amy, the trouble isn’t in finding love. The trouble merely begins when she finds love.
In case all this sounds dreadfully dull, it’s not. First of all, Schumer is equal parts adorable, vulnerable, and hilarious. She’s easy to love. She’s unafraid and will say anything for a laugh, including riff on tampons, riff on condoms, riff on anything taboo. The R is there for a reason.
Also, the peripheral actors are uniformly fantastic and some threaten to steal the show. Of all people, World Wrestling Entertainment star John Cena and basketball star LeBron James particularly shine. Their characters are both so sweet and so ridiculous, you want to see more. It’s worth the price of a ticket just to see King James in this way.
In the end, like other Apatow movies, the film makes the case for getting over yourself and growing the hell up. Life is better with someone to love, and even better when you work to become someone worthy of that love. It’s more than romantic comedy. It’s profound, even as it makes you laugh again and again. Here’s hoping that Apatow and Schumer are just getting started.