Review: “Trainwreck”

Amy Schumer and Judd Apatow do the world a long-overdue favor by zinging the hell out of the ubiquitous “Professional Woman Who Tries to Have It All and Find Romance in the Big City” rom-com formula, and do it with style, wit, and energy. The trope has been ripe for subversion for some time, and Schumer (who also wrote the script) and director Apatow succeed where last year’s “The One I Love” fell short by largely avoiding cute in favor of genre bending.

Schumer stars as Amy, a commitment-averse writer for a shallow New York magazine who parties like a college student and engages in more casual sex than a ’70s porn star while scoffing at her younger sister Kim’s (Brie Larson) conventional lifestyle. That (of course) changes when she meets Dr. Aaron Conners, a sweet and relatively stable sports doctor with whom Amy finds herself seriously falling for, much to her trepidation.

As damaged as Amy is, Schumer – in her first lead role – deftly avoids making the character too crass or unlikable by keeping in touch with her world-weary humanity and by being unafraid of presenting her vulnerability. Hader provides excellent balance; his Aaron is endearing as an awkward Prince Charming, and he keeps Aaron just nebbishy enough without turning him into a total doormat. To Schumer’s credit as a writer, both are given character arcs that feel real and believable, rather than trite and contrived.

The duo make for a fun and refreshingly atypical romantic screen couple; however, as honed as their respective comedy chops are they get some surprisingly stiff competition from their oddball mix of co-stars: Colin Quinn as Amy’s aged, abrasive deadbeat father; John Cena as her macho but surprisingly sensitive “boyfriend”; an almost unrecognizable Tilda Swinton as her shrewish boss; and LeBron James (as himself) playing Aaron’s over-protective wingman.

“Trainwreck” might put Schumer in the mainstream, but the one who stands benefit the most from it is Apatow, whose last big hit as a writer, director, or producer was Bridesmaids. It won’t necessarily re-ignite his career, but it does remind us of what he can do.