‘Trainwreck’ team talk film and Amy Schumer’s white-hot career

16 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck gets big laughs at hometown premiere.

2015 may not bring everything that Back to the Future II promised it would: flying cars, self-lacing shoes, we don’t see ’em happening over the next 12 months. (Then again, don’t bet against Nike.) But this year will definitely pack plenty of punch when it comes to cultural happenings. This raunchy rom-com is a high-speed rail line transporting director Judd Apatow back into relevance and writer/star Amy Schumer to the top of the A-list.For a movie written by and starring a comedian whose standup upends sexual taboos and whose hit Comedy Central show often skewers different genres and pop-culture detritus, the most remarkable thing about Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck is how traditional it is.Time to lighten up a lot with a much funnier Amy, as in Schumer, making her movie-starring debut in Trainwreck, which, if you’ve known her comedy style, should earn its R rating in the first 30 seconds.“Wow, Lincoln Center … where Abraham Lincoln was born and raised!” So joked Amy Schumer at the official world premiere of her first major film, Trainwreck. “This is the best night of my life,” she said a little more seriously, before launching into a list of thank-yous.

Mad Max will roar back out of the apocalypse while Mad Men rides off into the sunset, rock’s Antichrist Superstar and hip-hop’s Yeezus will rise again. R-rated and tart as it is, this movie still has the same squishy heart and frank perspective on family and relationships that’s been a staple of Apatow’s more recent movies, except it doesn’t stare at its navel as distractingly as Funny People or This Is 40 did. I didn’t think so.) Like many sketches on her vulgarly insightful Comedy Central series Inside Amy Schumer, Trainwreck stars the comedian as an oversexed, overindulging exaggeration of herself, navigating the cultural sinkholes of dating, gender equality and sexual expression.

But at a time when a good romcom is practically an endangered species, Trainwreck is a blessed relief: It’s not tearing down the genre, it’s restoring it. There was also a conversation with one of his proteges, Lena Dunham, plus he got to introduce a 35mm print of Hal Ashby’s 1979 masterpiece Being There starring Peter Sellers because, when you are introduced to a packed house of society swells as “the man who transformed the face of modern American comedy”, you get to do things like that. Part of the secret is that Schumer isn’t so much following a formula as she’s adding autobiography and feeling to a familiar boy-meets-girl blueprint. In Trainwreck, Amy is happily laying the field when she meets Aaron (Saturday Night Live alum Bill Hader), a professional sports doctor, and — horror of horrors — begins to consider settling into a monogamous relationship. Like its star, Trainwreck’s Amy is the product of a divorce, and her father, Gordon (Colin Quinn), is now suffering from MS and confined to a nursing home, a decision that causes tension between Amy and her married, more settled sister Kim (Brie Larson).

Her introduction was heartfelt and hilarious, admitting that she had no idea which teams the many sports legends that make cameos in the movie actually play for. That’s the emotional framework that informs Amy’s every action, adding resonance to a story that, on its surface, is just another tale of a commitment-phobic young person who meets Mr.

That would be Aaron (Bill Hader), a doctor who specializes in treating and operating on NBA players like LeBron James and Amar’e Stoudemire. (Inexplicably but also consistently funny is the fact that James and Aaron are good buddies, and the Cavs star takes his own traditional romcom role as the leading man’s sounding board and wingman.) A writer at a Maxim-like magazine in New York City, Amy gets assigned to profile Aaron, and while he’s a polite, sweet guy, he’s no pushover: She may be convinced that monogamy is impossible—her beloved dad told her as much when she was a girl—but he’s bright and assertive enough to see that they have a connection. Holmes (PG-13), and although the results don’t excite like 1998’s Gods and Monsters, the theme of someone finding meaning in his final days is intact. Though when it came time to mention co-star Tilda Swinton, who plays Amy’s bizarre magazine editor boss, she simply uttered the phrase “Tilda Motherfucking Swinton”.

Schumer, best known for her standup comedy and her television sketch show, reveals herself to be a tremendous and well-rounded actress, comfortable taking pratfalls and delivering tearful monologues. Guardian critic Benjamin Lee isn’t wrong in saying Trainwreck has “a few too many characters – and scenes – and the focus isn’t always as sharp as it could be,” but this audience was loving every minute of it. Since The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up established him as a well-respected, highly bankable comedy filmmaker, he’s taken risks as a director, but also started to take himself too seriously: His recent movies can still be very funny, but they also shamelessly flirt with self-importance. The mystery wouldn’t rank highly among Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s puzzles but offers McKellen chances to masterfully convey the inner workings of a curious sleuth. While Schumer has recently created something of a cottage industry for the writers of pop culture think pieces, kickstarted in part by Guardian writer Monica Heisey’s article which suggests Shumer may have “a shockingly large blind spot around race”, there seemed not a soul troubled by humour some might consider “problematic”.

Schumer’s screenplay gives him a template he knows to his core—the overgrown-adolescent main character who has to embrace adulthood—but perhaps because he didn’t generate the story himself, he’s able to see both the humor and the pathos from the proper perspective. Indeed, one of the biggest laughs comes from a sequence in which Bill Hader, who plays a sports surgeon, calls Schumer out for not having any black friends. As a result, this is Apatow’s least ragged movie, the one film of his that doesn’t arbitrarily slow down at points for extended improv-ed riffs between the main actors. (This isn’t to say that there aren’t moments in Trainwreck where it appears that the cast is going off-script, but these brief interludes don’t stall the momentum with their self-indulgence.) This approach plays into the kind of classic New York romcom magic that Schumer and Apatow are after: No one will mistake this movie for the elegantly witty The Apartment or Manhattan (the latter of which gets skewered at one point), but its foul-mouthed one-liners and honest depiction of single people’s sex lives are all in service of bringing Amy and Aaron to a hoped-for happy ending, the promised land of any film like this.

At the after party at Tavern on the Green, a tourist trap restaurant at the lip of Central Park that can swiftly transform into a quite elegant special events space, the members of the cast were met with revelry and huzzahs. The deep bench of the supporting cast includes Mike Birbiglia, Vanessa Bayer and even Method Man. “Trainwreck” is rarely as laugh-out-loud funny as early Apatow or “Inside Amy Schumer,” but it is consistently amusing and constantly engaging. Schumer fans already know what a potent comic persona she has, twisting her deceptively unremarkable All-American fraternity-gal demeanor to satirize gender roles and modern romantic conventions. Over by the pesto naan and garlic orecchiette with broccoli rabe and fennel sausage I spoke with Natalie Green, Rachel Williams and Kate O’Connor, three 22-year-old enthusiastic fans who had a little trouble explaining how they ended up at the party (“a friend of ours works at a magazine, or something?”) but were bursting to express their love for Amy Schumer. Busy week for home video releases, including 2015’s most provocative sci-fi release, Ex Machina (R), starring Oscar Isaac as a tech mogul attempting to create the perfect woman (Alicia Vikander).

Apatow is smart enough to let Schumer’s voice drive the film, but this unmistakable blend of sweet and sour, of melodrama and raunch, is all him — the good Apatow of “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” not the lesser Apatow of “This Is 40.” Alas, the authentic and personal “Trainwreck” ultimately embraces formulaic romantic comedy in a third act that belongs in a 1990s movie starring Julia Roberts For a film that’s so effortlessly likable and organic in its portrayal of Amy, Aaron, and their possible life together, the movie nearly capsizes in its third act, saddled with a truly unfortunate cameo-laden scene that takes too long and adds nothing, as well as a finale that feels beamed in from the many bad romcoms that have come before. (Plus, the film’s large supporting cast—which includes Tilda Swinton, Ezra Miller, and Vanessa Bayer—doesn’t always have enough to do.) These hindrances are irritating, but thankfully not fatal, serving as a reminder of how difficult it is to make a good romantic comedy. Older viewers may get a kick from The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (PG-13), although it isn’t as charming or thoughtfully plotted as the first.Click here to read a full review. At their core, these movies work because of their familiarity and reassurance: They insist that true love is out there and will triumph against all the odds. Then there’s The Longest Ride (PG-13), another tearjerker based on a Nicholas Sparks novel, that at least has the good sense to feature Scott Eastwood — Clint’s look-alike son — as a rodeo star on the comeback trail.

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