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Half Reel



Release Date: July 17, 2015
Runtime: 125 minutes
Rating: R
Studio: Universal Pictures
Director: Judd Apatow
Cast: Amy Schumer; Bill Hader; Colin Quinn; John Cena; Dave Attell; Tilda Swinton;
LeBron James; Brie Larson

Amy Schumer bulldozes her way onto the big screen playing a magnified version of her women-are-just-as-raunchy-as-men comedic persona in ‘Trainwreck.’ Schumer (who also wrote the screenplay) is a natural performer and going on the basis of her debut as a leading lady, we will be seeing lots more of her in years to come. That is a good thing. That is a very good thing.

Schumer is Amy Townsend, a young woman who, by all accounts, has a charmed life: cool, hip job writing for a men’s magazine, funky apartment downtown, and a sexy boyfriend. She’s also a hot mess: drinking too much, smoking weed on dates, and shooting her mouth off at any and all instances. A commitment-phobe if there ever was one, – the result of indoctrination by her father when she was a child that “monogamy is unrealistic” – Amy is an unapologetic floozy. It’s all good though: it works for her. That is, however, until she is assigned by her editor (an unrecognizable and hilarious Tilda Swinton of all people!) to interview Dr. Aaron Connors (‘SNL’ alum Bill Hader), a kinda-dorky surgeon specializing in sports medicine whose best friend just happens to be none other than LeBron James (playing himself and very funny and relaxed onscreen). After interviewing Dr. Connors for about 20 seconds, the two go for drinks and, in true Amy fashion, wind up in bed. Amy’s a little worried that she slept with the subject of her story, but she gets really worried when he calls her the next day and wants to go on a real date. She assumes that he must be some kind of a psycho-stalker since people aren’t supposed to actually want to spend time together. Has Amy finally met her match?

At first glance, it might seem as though ‘Trainwreck’ is merely going to serve up the male-dominated raunch-com genre from the female perspective, a la ‘Bridesmaids.’ But about halfway through, something unexpected happens: you realize that you’ve become invested in Amy and her budding relationship with Aaron. You kind of want them to end up together. You realize that you are, in fact, watching a true romantic comedy, albeit very R-rated, profane, and irreverent one.

This melding of genres is a tricky proposition to pull off (look at ‘Good Luck Chuck’ or ‘The Sweetest Thing’ for examples of lame attempts to fuse raunchy comedy and romance), but Schumer’s in good hands with director Judd Apatow (‘Knocked Up,’ ‘This is 40’). He, better than most contemporary filmmakers, knows how to navigate the sometimes-treacherous terrain between endearing and offensive. It helps, of course, that he is a very female-focused director and he allows Schumer to shine and be her bad self, while still painting within the guidelines of the traditional Hollywood rom-com framework. Amy still has to come to terms with her daddy issues, do some soul searching to discover what she really seeks in life, make amends with her family, etc. Yet we expect these notes to be hit so it’s not all that surprising when they occur. What is surprising is the extent to which we are emotionally involved in a story where a major scene involves a condom that gets stuck….oh, never mind!

This unexpected connection we have with Amy and the other characters is wholly due to Schumer’s talent at subverting the conventional into the outrageous; going to extremes to make a point, like all great satirists. We knew that Amy Schumer was a talent to watch from her Comedy Central show. Now watch her kick Hollywood in its ass!

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