Trainwreck (Judd Apatow, USA, 2015)


Trainwreck is hit and miss. But when it hits, it hits big; and it does hit often: I love Amy Schumer, who I’d never heard of before, and who gets at something painful and real through the comedy, which is often laugh-out-loud. The story is as simple as it is questionable: is Amy going to grow up to be a female version of the arsehole father of hers, Gordon (Colin Quinn)– sex mad, liquor-swilling, drug taking, incapable of commitment – or is she going to grow up, like her sister KIm (Brie Larson)?

The ‘growing up’ in this movie takes the form of having Amy fall in love, change her ways, and win the man she’s been so careless with, Aaron (Bill Hader); wealthy, humanitarian and highly-skilled sports surgeon to the rich and famous; and who, to this member of the audience at least, still doesn’t seem worth the bother.  Amy’s ‘growing up’ may also be read as a way of clipping her wings, containing her, reducing her to a more traditional, conservative and conformist model of femininity. Her father could be an arsehole and be loveable. For a woman to continue to be the same past Amy’s age is too horrifying a thought for a movie and its audience to contemplate. Both lose out.

But how can we quibble? Most comedies are imperfect, few have as many jokes that hit as big, almost none centre on a woman and even fewer demonstrate a detectable address to a female audience. I loved it.

Lots of sports stars I don’t know make cameos you probably will enjoy more than I. John Cena, the wrestler, is very funny as an early, too-stiff boyfriend with a body of steel, the emotional life of a tween girl and the sexual imaginary of a homosexual weaned on porn. An almost unrecognisable Tilda Swinton makes an unforgettable appearance as a too-tanned, hard-nosed ‘Essex Girl’ editor of a New York lads mag and steals the few scenes she’s in. Fab.

José Arroyo

4 thoughts on “Trainwreck (Judd Apatow, USA, 2015)

  1. I do love Amy Schumer and my favourite moments were the bits that were most recognisably her: the ongoing gross-out tampon joke, listening to and spectacularly following the oh-so-lame confessions at the baby shower, and more I can’t remember right now. Basically all the disgusting bits that get funnier as they go on much longer than anyone else would write them. However we both thought Tilda Swinton was shockingly bad. Just… terrible acting! I also was so lost in all the sports cameos and scenes; I felt like perhaps it was shoehorned in by committee to add a male address because they were frightened it was otherwise a film made for women and God, who would see that? So that just didn’t quite feel right to me, nor did all the sports related advertising. But overall, Sam loved it, and I continue to rate Schumer very highly. I felt like all the bits I didn’t like were probably decisions forced on her – but of course may be entirely wrong! Maybe she loves all things sports…

    1. I did love Tilda and i wonder if there might not be a Brit/US divide on that. She was playing a particular American stereotype of a Brit. I agree about Amy and all the disgusting bits and the problem with the cameos one doesn’t recognise. However, I do think there’ s a structural problem in that all that makes Amy great and loveable at the beginning is what the bulk of the film spends quite a lot of time trying to get rid of until she just becomes a slightly more lewd version of her sister at the end, which is a pity

      1. I think the Tilda problem was 85% accent as she didn’t quite nail it – she kept putting ts in where they didn’t quite belong. I couldn’t tell whether that was her natural accent coming through or a technique to make it more comprehensible to a U.S. audience. Either way it grated on me – but as it is Swinton I will forgive all. And the hammering Amy back into a ‘normal’ existence seemed like classic Hollywood all over again – I forget who wrote about it but I remember reading an article about how ‘bad’ characters were always punished and reformed by the end but it’s so tacked on for the code that what we remember is all the fun bad stuff. For me this seems like a part of that tradition; it’s an easy ending to make her mend her ways, and you’re right, it is a pity – considering how there are sparks of subversion in other places – and it didn’t ring true to me. When she was packing up her alcohol I thought ‘Oh so are we supposed to believe that’s it for her now?!’ And oh Lordy her sister was so boring! At least Amy brought back a little of her own personality with the cheerleading scene – if she had been actually good at that it might have been a total washout for me, but her comedy bad performance I thought rang true and kept a little of that trainwreck likability that is her persona. Have you fallen down that Schumer YouTube hole yet? 😉

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