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Trainwreck (3 stars)

Fresh but imperfect romantic comedy that's a launchpad for Amy Schumer

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Trainwreck

credit: Mary Cybulski

Fast-rising comedy star Amy Schumer introduces a flawed, wise-cracking woman with commitment issues into the rom-com genre with Trainwreck, the fifth feature from director Judd Apatow. Her screenplay may adhere to a tried-and-tested formula but it playfully subverts it too.

When men's mag journalist Amy (played by Schumer herself) is assigned to write a feature on sports doctor Aaron (Bill Hader) by her boss Dianna (Tilda Swinton), she ends up sleeping with him. It’s a set-up for a great joke which sees Amy completely boggled when he calls her after their one-night stand to ask her on a second date. Schumer also takes aim at the media, with the inclusion of a very funny editorial meeting which sidesteps coverage of important issues in favour of fluff and advertising. Moments like this are littered throughout and the punchlines mostly hit their mark, though there are a few misses too.

First and foremost the film revolves around Amy’s growth as a human being. Her relationships with her father Gordon (Colin Quinn) – who has recently been moved into a care home – and sister Kim (an exceptional Brie Larson) are a focal point which allow for thoughtful pause. And her burgeoning romance with Aaron is just part of her journey, albeit a wonderfully observed thread. Aaron’s friendship with game NBA star LeBron James – written as a caring man who drops Kanye West lyrics as life advice – also refreshingly turns the tables on the usual sexist bro-chat.

Amy is promiscuous, funny, unapologetic and full of conflicting emotions for the majority of the runtime. And the characterisation comes with a personal edge that really makes this protagonist stand out amongst the clumsy, hard-to-crack puzzles that frequent the genre.

Schumer’s brand of confrontational and acerbic wit, as seen in her TV show and standup, works exceptionally well in the comedic parts of the film, but the dramatic side sometimes feels forced. And though Trainwreck struggles with its structure – occasionally feeling like a sketch show – it’s certainly honest, though perhaps to a fault.

General release from Fri 14 Aug.

Trainwreck

  • 3 stars
  • 2015
  • US
  • 125 min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Judd Apatow
  • Cast: Amy Schumer, Tilda Swinton, Bill Hader, John Cena, Brie Larson, Colin Quinn
  • UK release: 14 August 2015

Journalist Amy (Schumer) is assigned by her editor (Swinton) to write a feature on sports doctor Aaron (Hader); she sleeps with him, then is boggled when he asks for a second date. The drama is sometimes forced, but Schumer's wit, honesty and edginess make her a standout protagonist, and the men too are refreshingly…

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