by Hope Madden
Ten years ago, The 40-Year-Old Virgin introduced the new voice of cinematic comedy. A decade later, 40 writer/director Judd Apatow is – for the first time – directing a film he didn’t write. Why? Because there’s a new sheriff in town and Apatow has the clout to ensure that the next voice in cinematic comedy gets heard.
Trainwreck is the bawdy, wise, hilarious, about-fucking-time romantic comedy written by and starring Amy Schumer. Startlingly honest and utterly lacking in pretension, she followed up years of refreshingly raw stand-up comedy by destroying cable TV with her brilliant Inside Amy Schumer. (YouTube 12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer immediately to see just how savvy a writer she is.)
She and Apatow collaborate on this sometimes touching, boisterously funny upending of rom-com clichés. (As Amy narrates the lovey-dovey montage backdropped by the Manhattan skyline, even she finds it cloying, quipping, “I hope this love montage ends like Jonestown.”)
Schumer plays Amy, a heavy drinking, sexually active (very active) writer for a magazine that runs stories like “How Does Eating Garlic Change the Taste of Semen?” and “You’re Not Gay, She’s Boring.” Her editor – the ever glorious Tilda Swinton – assigns her a piece on a sports doctor (Bill Hader), and Amy is reluctantly pulled into the world of monogamy.
The screenwriting is ingenious. This is a role reversal romantic comedy, basically, but it’s far too crafty to rely on that as a gimmick. On the surface, Amy’s the same protagonist trapped in an extended adolescence that has become commonplace in Apatow’s filmography, but there is no denying Schumer’s ability to find something new and authentic to bring to the mix.
She’s aided by an impeccable cast. Bill Hader has quickly become one of the most versatile and authentic actors of the SNL alum. Swinton’s magnificent, LeBron James is deadpan hilarious and a very good sport, as is John Cena, and Dave Attell is a hoot. Cameos galore draw belly laughs in a comedy that has something to say underneath hundreds of well-aimed gags.
Trainwreck might be the best romantic comedy since Bull Durham.