Buvette Masthead

Review: Trainwreck

Heather Wallace

Having thought that monogamy was never possible, a commitment-phobic career woman may have to face her fears when she meets a good guy (IMDB)

Love romcoms but your significant other/friend/film buddy would rather see a gross-out comedy? Well good news, you don’t have to choose anymore!!

It’s hard to tell if Trainwreck’s crude, crass, deadpan humour comes from the boundary-pushing brain of Amy Schumer (Inside Amy Schumer/comedian enraging Star Wars fans) or Judd Apatow (Knocked Up/40 Year Old Virgin). Bill Harder (Saturday Night Live regular and hard working voice artist-including Fear from Inside Out) adds his own comic style as an unlikely hero and you get the feeling a lot of the dialogue was made up on the spot. This makes it a different beast to romcoms starring Kate Hudson, Matthew McConaughey or Katherine Heigel, where looking good is enough to ensure a happy ending.

So what is happening in this self-styled Trainwreck? Amy (Amy Schumer, not much as a stretch with the name) is a frequently unlikeable, fast-living magazine writer who has a string of awkward sexual encounters (and I truly mean hands-over-your-face, ‘I can’t believe they said that’, cringingly awkward). Her utter loathing of all things sporty (sing it sister!) gets her assigned to an interview with Dr Aaron Conners as he prepares for cutting edge surgery on a renowned basketball player (Amar’e Stoudemire. No, that doesn’t mean anything to me either).

It’s painfully obvious she knows nothing about sport but rather than calling her out for wasting his time Dr Aaron goes along with it and it’s not too long until she has in him in bed, seemingly for no other reason than he’s there (damn it, why didn’t that happen when I interviewed Danny Bhoy? Why? Why?)

Rather than watching her bolt out the door as soon as they’ve recovered their breath, he actually wants her to stick around in his life. So now she’s faced with a dilemma: a fun and nice guy that she might actually like. Of course she’s freaked out. What kind of monster is he to be loving and supportive? Admittedly there are times when you do wonder if he’s a masochist for being interested, but there is also enough of a funny and appealing person under her shtick to explain it.

This isn’t the first ‘girls behaving as badly as the boys’ film of recent years. Done well, you get Bridesmaids (on which Apatow was a producer). Done badly and you end up with The Sweetest Thing.

Trainwreck differs from both by still being a classic rom-com. All the normal beats are there: the meet-cute isn’t as pronounced but there’s still the polar opposite romantic leads (she’s a party-girl, he’s a geek); their wacky best friends (his is Downton Abbey loving, tight-arse NBA star LeBron James, hers wants to call the cops when he asks her for a second date); and a cute montage of them falling in love. But rather than an overly scripted conflict driving them apart, their moments of conflict feel entirely natural and character driven.

For all the crass and cringingly crude humour there is heart to Trainwreck, and even characters written to be the walking butt of jokes (including muscle bound wrestler John Cena) get moments of quiet dignity and humanity.

A lot has been said of Tilda Swinton’s transformation from androgynous chic to excessively bronzed glamazon as the film’s bitchy magazine editor. It’s a small part for such a respected actress but she is clearly having a ball! She and the rest of the support players bring their A-game (wait, is that a sports reference? Where did that come from?) Watch out for an understated piss-taking cameo by Matthew Broderick.

So yes, it’s foul-mouthed and at times off-putting but, like Amy’s own trainwreck personality, it’s still fun to be part of. And the glimpses of a wonderful film-in-a-film, The Dogwalker, starring Daniel Radcliffe and Marisa Tomei, make me hope that’s the next thing to hit the big screens!

Trainwreck is playing at Canberra cinemas, including Palace Electric, from 6 August.

The reviewer saw the film as a guest of Palace Cinemas.


Heather Wallace

Heather’s career in arts and heritage PR spans 15 years, with highlights including working for Sean Connery at the Edinburgh International Film Festival and promoting Australia’s World Heritage places. Her blog, Myths and Misadventures, (http://mythsandmisadventures.blogspot.com.au/), is about life lessons we can learn from the Romans. You can follow her on Twitter @Missmythology. More about the Author