Starring Amy Schumer and Bill Hader, Colin Quinn, Brie Larson, LeBron James
Amy Schumer has an edge that I don’t always enjoy, but respect. She actually makes me a little uncomfortable, which is probably a good thing. She tests what is okay to say and challenges what you think about how women are supposed to behave. Judd Apatow is the George Cukor of our day, directing women who are smart and beautiful and funny. Why this should be so unusual in Hollywood is the subject of a civil rights investigation requested by the ACLU. According to a report by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, “Females comprised 12% of protagonists featured in the top 100 grossing films of 2014. This represents a decline of 3 percentage points from 2013 and a decline of 4 percentage points from 2002.”
So I am glad that Amy Schumer is having this moment.
In Trainwreck, Amy (Schumer) is a young woman weaned on her father’s inconstancy to her mother. The opening scene shows Dad (Colin Quinn) telling his two young daughters to repeat after him: “Monogamy is not realistic.” Unlike her younger sister, who marries and has children, Amy takes her father’s message to heart, and grows up to be a woman averse to any man who wants to spend the night, or even repeat spending one night, after sex. There is an exception with a regular sleeping partner, Steven (John Cena) who is so brawny and brainless he poses no threat to Amy’s wish to be a free range sex partner.
During the course of her job as a journalist at Snuff, a men’s magazine, she meets Aaron (Bill Hader), a sports doctor whose patients are all fabulous celebrity athletes like LeBron James and Amar’e Stoudemire. Aaron falls for Amy when she is in the process of interviewing him. The magazine is edited by Dianna (Tilda Swinton), who says things like: “I like you, Amy. You’re clever but you’re not too brainy. You’re prettyish but you’re not too gorgeous. You’re approachable.” Swinton brings her trademark tension and brilliance to the part.
One of the more convincing things about the movie is that Amy wants to do well at work, and doesn’t care that much about her relationships with guys. She just wants to sleep with them and then leave them alone. It turns the romantic comedy genre on its head, with Amy in the role usually played by an unattainable guy who finally meets his match.
It flips gender stereotypes by having the great basketball player LeBron James act the part of the fussy best friend who is only concerned with his happiness and the next Downton Abbey episode. I am not sure that it works. I found myself laughing because I knew that I was supposed to, but then thinking, this is not that funny.
Other scenes were funny, and I appreciated the movie within the movie that people kept watching in the background, which made good use of Marisa Tomei and Daniel Radcliffe and was just plain absurd. Overall, even though some of the intended humor lands with a thud, I hope that the success of this movie leads to more women with substantive roles and more Amy Schumer screenplays.