Amy Townsend (writer and star Amy Schumer) never describes herself as a trainwreck, but if you ask the right person, they'd probably say so. She drinks often, sleeps around and rejects commitment whenever it so much as peeps its head from around the corner. She won't even go to see the Black Keys with you. She'd rather go to work the next day, humble brag about her latest conquest to her co-workers, and start it all up again that night, with a different dude. She's busy, but she's happy. At least, she thinks she is.
Amy's a writer at an obnoxious, not so satirical men's magazine called S'Nuff, which is headed up by Dianna (a hyper-tan, unrecognizable Tilda Swinton), who assigns her to write a story about a hotshot athletes' surgeon named Dr. Aaron Conners (Bill Hader), mostly because Amy can inject a bit of "hatred" into the piece (Amy feels nothing but contempt for sports). Their relationship starts out mostly professional, until they have dinner together, then some drinks, and then Amy breaks her rule of never staying the night at a guy's place. Not used to this ever-so-slight introduction to monogamy, Amy initially spirals out of control, eventually accepting that she may have found her man, after all.
Because this movie is directed by Judd Apatow, and written by Schumer, I enjoyed it a lot more than I would have had other folks been behind the scenes (like, say, Nancy Meyers, who wouldn't touch a movie featuring vomit with a ten foot pole). It's a romantic comedy in the classic mold, except with a gender-reversal twist. I do not typically find the genre to be one of my favorites, but good is good—or, in this case, funny is funny. Apatow has immense resources in the entertainment industry, so when he is able to pull in Lebron James as a supporting character, and actually make it work, then you really have something special on your hands. Visually, Apatow has never been great shakes, being content to point the camera at the actors and let them do their thing, but his influence gives him access to the best talent there is, including Hader, who elevates the boring man he could have been into someone really worth watching.
Schumer is truly this movie's raison d'être, and not just because she wrote and starred in it. This is about as good a vehicle on the big screen that one could hope for from her, even though her allegedly razor-sharp edge from her own Inside Amy Schumer has been considerably blunted (I've not seen the show myself). She is every bit as daring and committed a comedic actress as I have ever seen, shooting her straight up into the ranks alongside Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, and Amy Poehler. She allows herself to be foul and sweet, and you believe that she is capable of both even within the same conversation. Anything involving her onscreen lands, even if it is just a reaction shot while someone else is going bigger than her. The fact that her own screenplay includes her being called, "pretty-ish" is a good indication that she has the right kind of humility and self-awareness that is sorely lacking in female-driven comedies (I'm looking at you, The Other Woman).
When Apatow directs a movie, you can count on several things, many of which are annoying: strange editing choices, obvious use of improvisation, minor to extreme over-length, characters with inordinately lovely apartments/homes, and unnecessary cameos. Although he receives no writing credit on the film (Schumer is the sole credit), his prints are all over this one, right down to the highly conventional, frankly conservative attitude towards relationships. Also, a queasiness towards people of color, a quality that is modulated in part by some knowing dialogue within the film itself. Schumer's presence and her own effect on the film mitigate some of these baser tendencies, but they're all still very much present. It's not the best when you can deem someone an auteur based on all the irritating choices they continually make.
Another beef: I don't quite see why Amy's character is such a trainwreck: there is no apparent reason why her life could not have gone on the way it did. Sure, she fudged the details of her not-so-monogamous relationship at the beginning of the film (to a closeted gay man hilariously played by wrestler John Cena), but she wasn't really hurting anyone, not even herself. She was successful at work, had good relationships with the members of her family (dysfunctional people though they are), and was living the sort of life that any straight, single man is allowed to live in both reality and in the movies. It's this regressive, scolding-adjacent attitude towards forcing women to settle down that I found distasteful. As transgressive as Trainwreck would like to think it is—and as it actually begins—it ultimately falls into the same, Hollywood-fueled trap of reinforcing the status quo, a trend that occurs particularly in the comedy genre, as though changing the way people relate to one another is ultimately not worth jeopardizing, not even through humor.
I understand that if Amy's character did not have an arc of some kind, then there wouldn't be a movie. But I ultimately liked her better when she was the so-called trainwreck of the title. Girls just want to have fun, after all.