Amy Schumer

REN REVIEWS: TRAINWRECK

*This review contains spoilers*

Like many other young adults, I saw Trainwreck over the weekend. I will go on the record and say that I’m a big fan of Amy Schumer (and pretty much the whole cast and director to boot) and that this movie made me consistently laugh out loud—or as the kids say, made me LOL (on second thought, are the kids still saying that?). The movie also made me cry. There were unexpected tender moments—and I was taken aback by Schumer’s dramatic, emotional acting chops.

However, I have a few hang-ups. The pacing doesn’t do the film any favors in selling the believability that Schumer’s character, Amy (natch), and Bill Hader’s character, Aaron, had made such a great bond in their courtship that they would go to the lengths they do in the story to be together. For the most part, Amy is truly a trainwreck. It’s not so much that she sleeps around and carouses more than the average person—it’s the way she sleeps around and carouses. In fact, she very much embodies the traditional male role that we typically see in (romantic) comedies. As funny as she can be, and deliver some great one-liners she does, the character can be infuriatingly pouty. Plus, we don’t ever grasp what it is that Amy likes about Aaron, or what Aaron likes about Amy. They have a few chuckles, and a few drinks, and then to his surprise, she takes him to bed on what we can consider their first date of sorts. And apparently for Aaron that is hook, line, and sinker. There are also no real stakes to their relationship. The audience is led to believe that they have great chemistry (and that she’s maybe becoming a better person because of him?) after a montage of them having fun dates traipsing around New York. That’s it. And when the big, climactic fight happens (as they always do), we’re not really rooting for either one of them.

Meanwhile, the film does have promising subplots that deliver great lines and laughs (memorable moments from Brie Larson, Mike Birbiglia, Randall Park, Jon Glaser, Vanessa Bayer, Colin Quinn and Tilda Swinton) but feel lost at times in between the ‘love plot’ with Aaron. That all goes to say that I walked away from the film thinking, “So was that a parody of romantic comedies?” So many elements in the film are classic rom-com clichés: Amy works as a magazine writer (and apparently she’s really good at it yet we hardly ever see her work); Amy lives alone in a Manhattan apartment (in what world?); Aaron is a doctor to star athletes making for awkward cameos by said star athletes; there are ‘falling in love’ montages; Amy feels pressure from younger sister who has already settled down; there’s a climactic fight; there’s a climactic ‘rebound’ scene (this was just weird!); and there’s a climactic performance to win back the guy. I mean, this is basically How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. With the exception of the storyline with Amy’s dad, everything else falls in line with what nearly all rom-coms do. Yet, this movie apparently isn’t aware that it’s a parody in the way that They Came Together is. There’s no nod or wink that they’re in on the joke. And that’s surprising, coming from Judd Apatow—who, at least in his earlier films, brought us subverted variations on the rom-com canon (The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up). I expected to have one or the other—and if you’re not going to do either, then be your own type of rom-com that doesn’t fall into these stereotypes.

And so again, I find myself confused at what this film is trying to say. If you’ve watched Inside Amy Schumer, you might think this is supposed to be an intentional parody. But it’s serious undertones suggest otherwise. We’ll never know what may have gotten left on the cutting room floor, or what kind of studio notes were pushed through, but it does seem that even the filmmakers weren’t sure what to make of the final product. Because instead of ending with concrete dialogue and feelings and wrapping up loose ends, we’re left with a bizarre* cheerleading routine performed by Amy to win back Aaron. Just like the entirety of the movie, it was random and confusing…but gosh darn it, it still made me laugh.

*Plot aside, this was genuinely well executed by Schumer. Brava, girl.

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Amy Schumer: A Funny, F**kable Feminist

I have to admit something. It’s something that’s weighed heavy on me in recent weeks. Okay, here it goes…I’m late to the Amy Schumer train. Yes, I’ve been aware of who she is since her Comedy Central show Inside Amy Schumer has been on the air and I had seen the occasional clip of popular sketches/bits that made the rounds on the Internet. It was the great “A Very Realistic Military Game” that really caught my attention from last year’s season two, in which Amy’s female avatar in a military-set video game gets sexually assaulted and must go through piles of paperwork just to be told from her boyfriend that she must have done something wrong. It is poignant on so many levels. That sketch set something off in me, that I needed to make time to go back and binge all of her episodes before last month’s season three premiere. For every bit that is extraneous, albeit funny (such as Cat Park), there are two sketches so on-the-nose about social/gender issues, which is where she (and her team of writers) really excel. Whether she intended it or not, Amy Schumer is the feminist icon we so desperately need(ed) – not that there are not feminist icons in the world (there are countless important women doing good work in many different sectors of our lives). But when it comes to someone in pop culture that can have a lot of sway and influence, Amy Schumer’s edge is that she’s so accessible. She’s simultaneously smart, funny, and easy-going and has mass appeal for a younger generation that could use such a relatable voice. She’s hilarious, shocking, but most importantly in-tune with what’s trending online and what issues need to be discussed, especially those that are important to young people.

So far, season three’s first two episodes have not disappointed. The premiere in particular was magical and feminist in every way. From the instant classics “Football Town Nights” (about the rape culture epidemic in sports/schools – and an A+ impression of Tami Taylor) and “Last F**kable Day” (three prominent ladies of Hollywood criticizing the misogyny of the entertainment industry) to possibly the biggest jab at Congress in the sketch where Amy struggles to get a prescription for birth control (with a not-so-subtle but fantastic rip at gun control), Inside Amy Schumer packs a lot of punch towards the right targets. Plus, she’s really funny with every swing. Here’s hoping that her show will do more than just make us laugh – but also make us think and cause some good change in this world.