Friday, January 15, 2016

Train of Thought

I recently watched Trainwreck, Amy Schumer's first major movie as both writer and star. As a fan-from-the-beginning of her hilarious TV series, Inside Amy Schumer, I was hopeful that the laughs would be big and numerous. And parts of the movie are really funny. But the package as a whole isn't quite what I was expecting.

Trainwreck earns its R rating, but is otherwise a rather conventional romantic comedy. Schumer stars as "Amy," a magazine writer with a serial love life and the expected emotional void. When she's assigned to write an article about a surgeon in sports medicine, played by Bill Hader, a romance begins to blossom. Ups and downs -- and hilarity -- ensue. You know how these things work.

I suppose I was expecting something a bit different from Amy Schumer. Not necessarily craziness, and not an unhappy ending, but something a little more... subversive. Her show, Amy Schumer strikes that note all the time. Even more, her show is often the vehicle for incisive social commentary. So many of her sketches are powerfully feminist and hilarious, so it surprises me a bit that her movie would toss most of that out in favor of connecting all the traditional rom-com dots. It just feels awfully conventional.

That said, the movie does deliver plenty of great laughs. Schumer shares the wealth as a writer, giving plenty of characters (not just herself) funny lines. Brie Larson plays her sister, in a 180-degree turn of a performance compared to her Oscar-nominated role in Room. Tilda Swinton is unrecognizable as the tyrannical, uncaring boss of Amy's magazine. Unlikely though it may seem, John Cena (yes, the wrestler) may be the funniest actor in the movie. Plus, there's reasonable romantic chemistry between Schumer and Bill Hader (and both are funny too). The movie even manages to get me to like Colin Quinn a bit, a comedian I otherwise truly hate for his ability to strangle jokes with a dull thud delivery.

Really, if you like rom-coms, you'll like this one. As an Amy Schumer fan, I was a bit disappointed... yet I'd still have to say this movie is better than many in the genre. I'd give Trainwreck a B-. Maybe even a B, were I somehow able to watch it again fresh, with more reasonable expectations. I hope the movie's relative success means we'll be seeing more Schumer movies in the future.

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