I have a strange feeling many people will avoid this film because it is a raunchy comedy with a ton of dirty jokes and some very explicit content – the same people that avoided films like The Hangover and Bridesmaids. The problem is that while Trainwreck does contain some very colorful and crude humor, it is a fantastically funny and also very heartfelt film, and I can say that Trainwreck joins Bridesmaids in the pantheon of great female comedies. This film may not be as brilliant as Bridesmaids (the comparisons between the two films exist beyond any expectations), but it is still certainly a great film.
Amy Schumer has had a tremendous breakout year in 2015. Many people were introduced to her for the first time this year, through either this film or her amazing Comedy Central show Inside Amy Schumer. However, Trainwreck is a truly bizarre film. Consider the fact that this film gave Schumer a huge breakthrough into the mainstream, and she is now a massive star in Hollywood and the current “It girl” – but when this film was in production, she was merely an obscure comedian who had a successful but little-seen show on television. For both Judd Apatow (a filmmaker who has made his fortune as a director finding new talent) and the studio that funded this film took an enormous risk casting Schumer in such a lead role in a tentpole film. It was a risk that could’ve lost everyone an immense amount of money and faith in their decisions would be forever tainted. However, it is very clear that their decision to take this risk was definitely not a failure, and instead a resounding success, resulting in Schumer giving a great comedic performance.
Schumer is an absolutely brilliant comedian, and seeing her in a lead role in a feature length film was a great experiment of her talents. There is no doubt that she is a charismatic actress who carries this material well (she certainly should, as she wrote it) – but, I need to be a bit of a killjoy here, and say that I don’t know if she was capable of carrying this film as well as she could have. Don’t get me wrong, she is fantastic and deserves the launch to stardom that has resulted…but when you look at Melissa McCarthy, who transitioned from supporting roles to lead roles, you can see a big difference. McCarthy is able to command the screen and carry the entire film on her own shoulders, while Schumer seemed to be struggling a bit. As a result, Schumer squanders the potential for giving the greatest performance of her career. It isn’t fair to compare Schumer to McCarthy (I only do so because they had very similar rises to fame), but I do believe that Schumer herself will lead several high-grossing comedies, it just Trainwreck didn’t show her at her very best, and I found myself wanting more from her performance. Not to say that she was bad, or even mediocre – she was very good. But she could’ve been better, but I wouldn’t dare suggest that she should have been replaced by a more established film comedian. Trainwreck was a fantastic breakthrough for her, but I feel like it would’ve functioned a lot better as a film slightly later on in her career, because have a few films to warm up with first would have done wonders for her performance here, and I just felt that the Amy Schumer we saw here was not as brilliant as the Amy Schumer that has been established through her stand-up material and her wonderful sketch comedy show.
However, enough about Schumer (for now) – the other lead of this film is Bill Hader, an actor who has tons of experience in comedy, both as the shining light for several years on Saturday Night Live, and for many supporting roles in great comedies. I was an enormous fan of Hader on Saturday Night Live, but I never thought that he would be a leading man in a film. Not to say that he is a bad actor – far from it…he’s actually too good. He has a unique manic comedic charm that doesn’t fit as a leading man comedic role, but rather the role of fun, but limited, supporting characters. No one was more surprised than me to see him (and fellow Saturday Night Live icon Kristen Wiig), leading the dramatic comedy The Skeleton Twins last year, a film that ended up being chosen by me as one of the best films of the year for , and both performers were on the shortlist for performer of the year. Hader proved that not only can he lead a film, he can lead a dramatic film, which is something many more established and older comedians were unable to do. Here, he is co-lead with Schumer, and I might be seen as a pariah for this, but he certainly gives the better performance of the two. He abandons the offbeat goofball character he has perfected, and instead shows his range by playing a very compelling romantic lead, while still being very funny. Trainwreck showed an entirely new side to Hader, and one I thought was very effective and speaks volumes about his future as a performer, which will hopefully be very bright.
Enough about the leads! The supporting cast of this film was spectacular. I worship at the alter of Tilda Swinton, and she makes a very funny appearance in this film as Schumer’s sarcastic and purely evil boss. It is wonderful to see Tilda in such a broadly funny film, and despite being the very definition of eloquence and sophistication, Tilda is a huge comedy fan, and her performance here was not necessary (anyone could’ve played the role), but the fact that Tilda Swinton played the role gives this film instant credibility, and while she may not be in it for very long, she certainly makes an impact, and this film will serve as a great addition to her iconic filmography. Brie Larson, who is having a great year due to her performance in Room, is wonderfully plain as Amy’s conservative sister. Colin Quinn is hilarious as Amy’s loose-cannon of a father suffering from multiple sclerosis. Two athletes – John Cena and LeBron James – give comedy a try…and it wasn’t a disaster. They were both very funny, and while they did not give performances that could be considered the epitome of high acting, they certainly did what the roles required. Great cameos from the likes of Daniel Radcliffe, Matthew Broderick, Ezra Miller, Norman Lloyd and a whole array of Saturday Night Live veterans, make Trainwreck a film worth it for the multitude of great celebrity cameos.
I thought Trainwreck was a great film. It might not be the best comedy of the year, and I feel like it could’ve done things a bit differently in order to be unique amongst similar films. However, it is still unflinching and doesn’t shy away from making powerfully funny and sometimes even shocking statements. It really is a funny film, but unfortunately, there are very few truly laugh-out-loud moments, which is strange for a Judd Apatow film. It could’ve been a lot funnier, and perhaps I am being too harsh on this film, and while I do think it is a fantastic film, I did want more done with the material.
Trainwreck had the potential to be the best comedy of the year, but unfortunately it didn’t reach that potential. However, it was still a great film and definitely in the upper tier of comedy films of this past year. Its a fantastic film, and perhaps you will love it, but I suspect many people will be put off by it, which is understandable, but I do urge everyone to give it a shot. Its a great film.