Published Jul 17, 2015Amy Schumer is having a moment, and it doesn't seem like it's about to end anytime soon. Even as segments from the comedian's sketch show Inside Amy Schumer continue to regularly flood the Internet, here she is now writing and starring in her first feature film, Trainwreck. Under the direction of Judd Apatow, it's an endlessly funny and surprisingly sweet romantic comedy that expertly transposes Schumer's raunchy sensibilities into the familiar framework of the genre.
Fans of Schumer will recognize the autobiographical elements in the fictional Amy she portrays here, aside from the fact that she's a men's magazine writer who pens articles like "How to Talk Your Wife Into A Threesome" instead of a comedian. She drinks, smokes weed and sleeps around with guys without the burden of committing to any of them. In fact, she attempts to adhere to a fairly strict rule against sleeping over at a guy's place if she can help it.
This all starts to change when she's assigned to write a story about a sports doctor named Aaron (Bill Hader), who's been out of the romantic game for a while and takes a liking to Amy almost immediately. There's a wonderful scene after the two first go out for drinks where they hop in a cab and, when Amy insists on going back to his place, it only slowly dawns on Aaron what's happening. They predictably fall for each other, but Schumer's acerbic wit transcends the usual tropes of their courtship. "I hope this love montage ends like Jonestown," she narrates at one point.
There's no shortage of supporting roles populated with talented performers, and not one of them is wasted. Lebron James, playing a Downton Abbey-loving, Kanye-quoting version of himself, steals nearly every scene that he's in as an overprotective and appallingly frugal close friend of Aaron's. Wrestler John Cena brings humour and depth to Amy's closest boy toy, Colin Quinn shines as her politically incorrect father, and Brie Larson is a good foil as her more traditional sister. That's not even to mention Mike Birbiglia, Dave Attell, Vanessa Bayer and Tilda Swinton, who all make the most of their limited screen time.
Hader's been steadily impressing for years now in comedies, especially in his recent semi-dramatic turn in The Skeleton Twins opposite Kristen Wiig, but this may be his most fully realized performance to date. He's convincingly awkward and inexperienced in love, shifting seamlessly from the comedic moments to the more serious ones. But this is decidedly Schumer's movie and, while it's hardly shocking to find that she's consistently hilarious and endearing throughout, the vulnerability she displays is particularly disarming.
Her script is smart and perceptive in how it navigates well-trodden territory, realistically portraying the festering issues that can derail a relationship and the trials of working through them. Amy's insecurities with monogamy are relatable, echoing Groucho Marx's old adage, "I don't care to belong to any club that will have me as a member." Apatow shows the same uncanny ability to squeeze every last laugh out of a scene that has made him a household name while avoiding some of the more indulgent impulses that have plagued his recent efforts. It's easily his strongest film since The 40-Year-Old Virgin and perhaps even exceeds those lofty heights.
It's the kind of romantic comedy that comes around once in a while and improbably makes the stale formula suddenly seem vital again. This isn't just the best comedy of the year; it's also one of the best films.