James Cole Clay has been working as a film critic for the better part of a decade covering new releases, blu ray reviews and the occasional drive-in cult classic. His writing is dedicated to discovering social politics through diverse voices, primarily focusing on Women In Film and LGBTQ cinema.
Cole Clay // Film Critic
Judd Apatow has worn his heart on his sleeve with each and every project he has helmed. By searching for the truth in his films, the director has developed a formula that created softhearted comedy with an acerbic wit that has revolutionized comedy. The same goes for Amy Schumer who has been dubbed as the new Hollywood “it girl” in more than one publication (a term that I completely refute). She has a biting way of seeking the truth that has been showcased in her work as one of the more polished stand-up comedians on the planet. The two have the same ostensible goal that works to a tee in TRAINWRECK, a conventional romantic comedy that breaks down barriers that others weren’t brave enough to tackle.
TRAINWRECK is the semi autobiographical story of Amy (Schumer), a boozing promiscuous journalist working in Manhattan at the despicable magazine S’Nuff. Amy was taught from a young age that monogamy is impossible in today’s dating climate by her homophobic, racist father Gordon (Collin Quinn). His behavior is certainly irresponsible to say the least; however, it’s easy to see why Amy loves her father unconditionally. Quinn brings an earnest performance that’s bold but grounds the film in a relatable context which ultimately carries the film.
Through late night escapades she embraces her sexuality without remorse, or a plan that extends past last call at a local watering hole. She’s challenged by (sort-of) boyfriend Stephen (John Cena in a brilliant comedic turn, when he urges her to commit she robotically says “ I just need this interaction to end.” The great part of Amy’s exploits is they serve as forms of expression for her as a modern young professional and a form of growth.
She is assigned by her boss (Tilda Swinton) to write a piece for her smutty magazine on sports doctor Aaron Conners (Bill Hader). The two have nothing in common– she razzes him about sports saying, “don’t you think wearing another man’s name on the back of your shirt is announcing that you are his prison bitch?” They end up bonding over a touching moment when her ailing father needs medical attention. In a tearful interaction, Quinn serves as the catalyst for change in Amy, she embraces his prickly side in her own personality without sacrificing any emotional heft.
Hader rises to the challenge of his leading man status, by being fully primed to handle the material that develops into an authentic relationship with Amy. In one scene Aaron calls (not texts) Amy after their roll in the hay to set up another date. She immediately assumes this is a “butt dial” and freaks out to the point where her friend/co-worker (Vanessa Bayer) overreacts by saying, “we need to call the cops!” Schumer’s script highlights the awkwardness in today’s digital dating pool.
Apatow has a knack for disarming the audience by using rarely seen actors (and even non-actors) to lift the film’s comedic presence. Playing the male best friend role to Hader is LeBron James, who plays a cheap-skate version of himself (a few of his scenes along with Cena get the film’s biggest laughs). The last act drags just a hair while Apatow is concerned with wrapping up loose ends with peripheral characters. This comes as a blessing and a curse for his films that introduce wildly humorous individuals who end up getting all dressed up with nowhere to go.
TRAINWRECK’s pointed look at sex furthers the conversation about how men and women connect. It’s not about assuming a certain role in a relationship or changing to fit a certain mold; it’s about finding refuge in the one you love and growing together. And it can’t hurt to throw an off-color joke about tampons in the mix every once in a while.
TRAINWRECK opens tonight in participating theaters and Friday nationwide.