Film Review: Trainwreck

by Carrie Kahn on July 17, 2015

Schumer/Apatow collaboration delivers lots of laughs

Sports medicine doctor Aaron (Bill Hader) is intrigued by magazine writer Amy (Amy Schumer).

Amy Schumer, who in the past year has become comedy’s reigning it girl, breaks on to the big screen today with Trainwreck, the Judd Apatow-directed film that she both wrote and stars in. The Apatow-Schumer combination is as powerful as comedy fans would hope; the film is filled with Schumer’s no-holds-barred, brilliantly edgy funny bits, tempered by the same down-to-earth sweetness Apatow brought to pictures like The 40-Year-Old Virgin. The result is a refreshing, raw romantic comedy that will charm and delight even the most jaded rom-com fans.

Schumer plays Amy Townsend, a sports-ignorant reporter for a lightweight men’s magazine who is assigned to interview Aaron Connors, a sports medicine physician (Bill Hader, earnest and funny) whose patient roster includes some very famous names. Amy and Aaron of course hit it off immediately, but Amy has commitment issues stemming from her parents’ divorce and her relationship with her acerbic, monogamy-hating father (Colin Quinn). And with that premise, we have the makings of what is perhaps the best sports-themed romantic comedy since Jimmy Fallon met Drew Barrymore back in 2005’s Fever Pitch.

LeBron James explains Cleveland’s high points to his buddy Aaron (Bill Hader).

Indeed, this is one film you won’t have to fight about on date night; there’s something for everyone here. Nothing is safe from Schumer’s skewering – sports, sure, but indie movies (look for the inspired film-within-the-film), rom-coms themselves (the picture gets hilariously meta), family relationships, racist senior citizens, modern dating, baby showers, drinking, drugs, and sex also get their due, and you’ll be laughing too hard and too much to have any time to be offended.

A bevy of cameos from the sports and entertainment worlds (who I won’t name, so as not to spoil the fun) bring some priceless surprise laughs, as do the strong main supporting players, including Cleveland Cavs star LeBron James. Playing himself, James proves his talents extend beyond the basketball court, in a very funny turn as Aaron’s patient and good friend. James has a natural screen presence, and his impeccable timing and delivery earn some of the film’s biggest laughs. Other highlights include Tilda Swinton, almost unrecognizable as Amy’s comically forthright boss, and Vanessa Bayer as Amy’s preternaturally perky co-worker. And Ezra Miller, who was so heartbreaking in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, creates another indelible character here, in the form of an exceptionally young – and exceptionally weird – intern at the magazine.

Amy (Amy Schumer) and Nikki (Vanessa Bayer) react to an unexpected call.

As for Schumer herself, she carries the film remarkably, proving that she’s not only a gifted comedienne, but also an adept dramatic actress. Under Apatow’s direction, Schumer shows us her serious side, and she brings depth and sensitivity to scenes involving her father’s decline and conflicts with both her sister (Brie Larson) and Aaron.

The film does have some missteps: the storyline, smart and provocatively funny as it is, still has an utterly predictable ending, and a few of the jokes don’t always ring true (a scene in which Amy gives a homeless man she’s befriended a box full of drugs and alcohol, for example, is played for laughs, which seems terrifically out of touch on the part of the privileged filmmakers). But a couple of weak jokes and a bit of lazy plotting aren’t enough to ruin what is arguably one of the best times you’ll have at the movies this summer, if not this year. Schumer earned her first Emmy nomination yesterday for her Comedy Central show; no doubt more awards will follow if she keeps bringing us material this fresh and sharp.


Trainwreck opens today at Bay Area theaters.

Carrie Kahn

Moving from the arthouse to the multiplex with grace, ease, and only the occasional eye roll.

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