I look at the year so far and marvel at the disproportionate number of great films that have been fueled by estrogen. Is this a coincidence? Probably, but coincidences are no fun. The cool answer is female voices, at least right now, have brought out the best of an already masterful studio (Inside Out), and brought a feminist glow to a franchise that’s not exactly known for subtlety (Mad Max: Fury Road). In the case of Trainwreck, they’re taking a tired genre like the Peter Pan rom-com and turning it on its head. Judd Apatow, the king of Peter Pan plots, directs the Schumer script like his career depends on it. Not that his career is close to shambles, but his last foray into film, This is Forty, was a downer indeed. Trainwreck is a return to the heights of The 40 Year-Old Virgin and Knocked up, and he has a foul-mouthed blonde named Amy Schumer to thank for it.
Schumer, for years now a stand-up staple, transitions to the screen with such natural acuity that it’s kind of amazing she hasn’t been doing it forever. She’s not prancing around a cobbled-together story to sling her stage jokes like most comedians. She’s actually acting here. But her voice remains in tact, and that’s no easy feat in the world of comedy. Trainwreck is funny, but it also feels deeply personal, incorporating everything from the perils of being thirty-plus and single to the plights of a cutthroat workforce. Then there’s daddy issues, exemplified by the cunty but endearing Colin Quinn as Amy’s father, a man burned by divorce who divvies up his pro-alcohol and anti-monogamy monologues to his daughters at a young age. And thus, the booze-swilling, one-night-stand-having woman of today is born.
Don’t get me wrong, this film is not about chastising such a lifestyle, but about recognizing it for what it is or perhaps should be in any healthy adult’s long-term version of life: a temporary period. Eventually the random strange and just strange (John Cena’s musclebound softy is a hoot) give way to Bill Hader, a funny actor finally getting his due as Amy’s main love interest. Like any good Apatow adventure, the supporting cast is ripe with cameos. Lebron James, Randall Park, Dave Attell, Daniel Radcliffe, Marisa Tomei, and other gems make glorious appearances in all manner of roles. Tilda Swinton and Ezra Miller steal scenes as Amy’s bitchy boss and bitch of a co-worker, but they never come close to stealing the movie. Schumer won’t let them. She’s a bonafide star, and Trainwreck proves it. It also proves that the “Year of Women” isn’t a hashtag of the day, but a true title for this banner time in the history of cinema.