Trainwreck: Off the rails, but never too far gone.

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Break out your personal juice box of wine and kick up your feet – it’ll be easier to put the proverbial shoe on the other foot.

*Side note: Don’t actually put your feet up, or you may find yourself in a John Cena-esque theater confrontation.

As an audience, we’ve grown accustomed to television and film in which the protagonist, usually male, parties too much and has the more-than-occasional one-night stand. (I wanted to say “titular” character rather than protagonist because it’s a funny sounding word and the film would surely approve, but it wasn’t titled “Amy.” I’ve heard that film is decidedly less comedic, but also quite good.)

In any case, the lead carries on in this manner until they meet that special someone who challenges them to re-evaluate their life and change their ways.

Now, have you switched your shoe to a different foot? Yes? Good, because welcome to Trainwreck.

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From the outset, we’re made to believe that Amy (Amy Schumer) thinks monogamy isn’t realistic – a stance she’s held since her father Gordon (Colin Quinn) drilled it into her and her sister Kim’s (Brie Larson) heads. And, to her credit, we meet Amy pursuing this philosophy by drinking, getting high, and doing whatever she feels like that doesn’t include committing to one guy.

That is, until her job as a writer for the men’s magazine S’Nuff introduces her to premier sports doctor Aaron Conners (Bill Hader). While Amy doesn’t exactly follow sports, unless the “Orlando Blooms” are a real team with which I’m unfamiliar, she starts coming around to the goofy, charming, and successful Dr. Conners. Aaron, for his part, is smitten almost immediately.

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As Amy tries to adjust course for this uncharted territory, the formerly commitment-averse thirty-something begins to wonder if she’s ever had the right outlook. But, of course, no one’s life is one-dimensional.

In the midst of facing her fears and exploring a new relationship philosophy, Amy has to deal with the fractured pieces of her existing relationships. Her mother has long since passed away, and her ‘wisdom-bequeathing’ father is confined to a wheelchair and care facility due to advancing Multiple Sclerosis. To make matters worse, Amy and her sister Kim don’t always see eye to eye when it comes to their father and creating families of their own – a rift that isn’t helped any by Amy’s consistent jokes at the expense of Kim’s dorky husband Tom (Mike Birbiglia) and stepson Allister (Evan Brinkman).

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Along the way, ensuring that nearly every minute of run time elicits a laugh and/or cringe, the film is bolstered by an accomplished supporting cast. Amy’s coworkers Nikki (Vanessa Bayer), Bryson (Randall Park), and Schultz (Jon Glaser) represent an impressive collection of comedic talent, while her demanding boss Dianna (a nearly unrecognizable Tilda Swinton) and the new intern Donald (Ezra Miller) promise there is never a dull moment at S’Nuff.

Two of the more pleasantly surprising cast members are undoubtedly John Cena as part-time boyfriend Steven and LeBron James as himself, playing Aaron’s best friend. Cena offers a great character introduction as a guy struggling with his own personal issues, while James steals every scene he’s in – whether it’s talking about Downton Abbey or grilling Amy to find out if Aaron is “her Ohio.”

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In addition to starring, Amy Schumer (writer and star of the sketch comedy show Inside Amy Schumer) also penned the script – her first feature film. Unapologetically in-your-face and deserving of its R rating, Trainwreck is an impressive debut, skirting many of the pitfalls and points of disconnect you might expect of a comedian moving from a mix of sketch topics to a cohesive, two-hour story.

Crafting each scene to land with the right punch, Trainwreck is directed by comedic heavyweight Judd Apatow (Knocked Up, The 40-Year-Old Virgin). Known for realistic, comically improvised takes, Apatow’s style works well to bring out the best in this talented cast and surprising script.

Featuring a slew of other great cameos, including Daniel Radcliffe and Marisa Tomei in their own ‘starring’ roles, Trainwreck is clever, but not too brainy; pretty-ish, but not gorgeous – it’s approachable; successfully filling the role of this summer’s welcome hit.

4/5 reels


125 min

Director: Judd Apatow

Starring: Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, Brie Larson

US Release: July 17, 2015, Universal Pictures & Apatow Productions


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