What do you call a female philanderer? There really should be a word for that.
As children, little Amy and Nikki got an earful from their dad (Colin Quinn) about the horrors of monogamy, a lesson Amy (Amy Schumer) has held to as a grown up. While her sister Nikki (Brie Larson) has a kid, home, and husband, Amy drifts from guy to guy when not at work or enjoying her select collection of vices alone at home. After her publisher (Tilda Swinton) assigns her an interview with a charming sports doctor (Bill Hader), Amy begins to suspect that something might be missing in her life…and she intends to fight that feeling kicking and screaming all the way.
R-rated films for adults over the last decade have been hit and miss, creating images of pointless toilet humor, ultraviolence, or graphic horror. Awards season seems to be filled with quirky “real” characters but rarely in a believable way; too often, they seem like either a trailer-trash reality show or “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” Movies like This is 40 have managed to break these conventions but still haven’t quite embraced the full potential of an R-rating without spilling over into This is The End territory. Enter Amy Schumer on the high heels of her successful television show with a pitch that must have sounded like “How to REALLY Lose a Guy in Ten Weeks or Whatever.”
The film steals the standard rom-com formula while showcasing the woman as the philanderer; there are plenty of montage moments where Schumer roasts the tropes via voiceover. Like an Edgar Wright film, Trainwreck both makes fun of rom-coms while being a rom-com itself – hey, it worked for Shaun of the Dead. The movie doesn’t shy away from the sex talk, either, presenting plenty of skin while keeping the focus on the hilarity of bedroom antics. Many of the characters feel single-minded but are brought to life by the cast; there’s no villain here, just misunderstandings. The film isn’t perfect and there are more than a few lulls that a bit more editing might have fixed, but it’s a surprisingly solid film.
Schumer carries the dramatic elements of the film but it’s easy to tell she prefers sarcasm to a bleeding heart. Dave Atell delivers a cameo on the street finding creative ways to beg for cash and booze; an impossibly fake-tanned Tilda Swinton serves as a well-meaning but absently overbearing boss. Bill Hader (recently heard as the voice of Fear in Pixar’s Inside Out) is usually relegated to best friend roles but steps up as Amy’s love interest; he’s the perfect foil for her one-and-done end-of-relationship low expectations. And who knew LeBron James could not only act (a little) but actually possessed a sense of comic timing?
One of the best running gags is a fictional film called The Dogwalker starring Daniel Radcliffe and Marisa Tomei, the kind of cringe-worthy art house tripe designed to keep Kleenex in business both before and after you claw your eyes out. The entire film is both light-hearted and serious enough to work while providing plenty of situational, laugh-out-loud moments. Maybe summer blockbusters and superhero films should worry; if this kind of thing keeps up, it could start giving rom-coms a GOOD name.
(a three and a half skull recommendation out of four)