If Judd Apatow has proven anything it’s that he knows how to create a star. Maybe that’s because he so damn good at finding funny people. Like “Saturday Night Live” the world would not be the same without Apatow’s ability to scout talent. Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, James Franco, Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig and others would either be unknown or have fractions of the notoriety they do now. And now, the name Amy Schumer can be welcomed into that pantheon of R-rated comedy genius, and she is most welcome indeed.
With her film “Trainwreck” (which she also wrote), Schumer has tapped into something only covered in her stand-up routine and transformed it into something immensely personal and endearing—not to mentioned uproariously funny. Take this next statement however you like, but she will never make a better movie than this.
Though Schumer has said in many interviews that the extent of the sexuality portrayed by her persona in this film—as well as the personality projected in her stand-up— is exaggerated to an extent, there is enough here that is so well-written that it seems impossible that any of it isn’t true.
Take for instance her MS-ridden father. Now the idea of a racist, belligerent, perverted, former alcoholic in his fifties from New York isn’t exactly a new one, but Amy’s (both the character and stars name, which makes this all much easier) relationship with him is what’s so powerful. Having taught them “monogamy isn’t realistic” using a doll as an example, you could say he is the reason she is such a mess to begin with. But over the years, as his disease has spread, she has come to see him in a more innocent light. Sure he’s a prick, but she’s his prick. Their chemistry mixed with Colin Quinn’s enticing, nuanced performance makes for a sweet pairing amidst all the sex and drinking.
Apatow’s movies are always about people and on that note, it’s necessary for me to mention how much Apatow has grown as a director in terms of filming his actors. I’m sure Quinn did his homework, as did everyone in the cast, but you can tell Apatow has developed a taste in just watching his actors work. He spends a lot more time on their subtle reactions, and even more time when they’re funny.
For example (but what would I be if I didn’t give examples?), Apatow makes an effort to often put in frame Amy dad and the alignments that afflict him. Quinn did a knockout job naturally configuring his malfunctioning hands and crooked body positions—and the work is suitably showcased. As well, Apatow clearly has the same affinity for the magnificent Brie Larson (playing Amy’s sister) who better than most young actresses today has complete control over her eyes. She can use them to convey a crippling intensity that could scare away a lion, a peaked curiosity as she scans the people around her and even bursts of hilarity fit with a Julia Roberts-esque laugh. Apatow stays on her as long as he can to get that point across, and for that I give him a thousand pardons as he demonstrates immense sensitivity in his growth as a director.
Rounding out the cast is the always-amazing Bill Hader as he successfully progresses deeper into more serious affair. There’s also one of my favorite current SNL alums Vanessa Bayer and Tilda Swinton in an almost unrecognizable comedic performance. Apatow is also a pro at taking people who couldn’t seem unfunnier and turning them into showstoppers, in this case, sports stars LeBron James and John Cena. Not only are they brilliant here but they also get some of the most memorable bits. Maybe this is Schumer’s way of conveying she hates sports, taking two of its biggest stars and destroying our perception of them. Well done, madam.
But the star is Schumer who acts with humility and has written her character with grace. Her character is modern woman with an alcohol problem and maybe likes sex a little too much. But it’s not overblown as one would expect with a first script. Amy isn’t engaged in orgies or walking the streets nude or passed out in a gutter puking her soul out. It’s the little signs that one could easily defend as her just having a good time—like making out with any hot guy or sneaking wine into a movie theater—but in reality are red flags she must realize can hurt those around her.
Like I mentioned earlier Schumer has said a lot of her persona is exaggerated a tad, but I couldn’t help but feel watching “Trainwreck” that most of it is immensely personal and comes from a lot of sad and hilarious experiences. Either that, or Schumer is just an effing great writer. I will settle on the conclusion that its both.