As its title suggests, it can be difficult to take your eyes off of the new Amy Schumer written, Judd Apatow directed comedy “Trainwreck”. Schumer stars as a young New Yorker and magazine journalist who breezes through life without a drop of sentimentality. A kind of sexual adventurer, Amy Townsend moves from conquest to conquest, and never troubles herself with flaky things like manners or second thoughts. Her only rule: never stay the night. In other words, we are being presented with a young woman who refuses to allow herself to be tied down by the great normalizer, monogamy. And why should she? It’s after the end of a fling with an absent minded bodybuilder (John Cena) that Amy finally meets her match- Aaron (Bill Hader).
Aaron seems perfect. He is a wealthy doctor who works exclusively with celebrity athletes, and has a deep rooted sense of humility that keeps him stable and respectable. Amy assumes that her new doctor friend will be a new addition to her very long list of one-night stands, but when he calls asking for a second date, a phrase that does not exist in her vocabulary, something doesn’t compute. “Oh…This is Amy.” she blithely explains. “I think you butt-dialed me.”
It doesn’t make sense to Amy that a man should be interested in a real relationship with her. Thus far she has picked partners based on the idea that they would never in a million years be interested in following up with her, a guaranteed apathy that she plays to her own hand. But the world has changed: traditionally macho men are more open minded people who discuss Downton Abbey amongst themselves and make breakfast for their dates in the morning. The ground under Amy’s feet is shifting, and before she has time to stop herself, she is in love. It’s a familiar plotline, clearly.
Two young people fall in love, but “twist!” they’re opposites. One is a rascally boozer who can’t be pinned down, the other is a well balanced if a little spineless professional, and each one must learn from the other for the relationship to work at all. It almost feels ancient at this point, in fact I don’t doubt that a scholar out in the world has spent hours upon hours reading Sumerian texts or some such pieces of papyrus just to stumble upon the same clichéd story, written in dots and scratches thousands of years ago. This is not a bad thing: it’s a familiar method, but somehow it seems to work every time. Amy Schumer knows the formula, and loves it dearly, I’m sure.
But “Trainwreck” is not quite the same as most of the films that follow these guidelines. Schumer has carefully erased the dusty old gender variables of the “opposites attract” storyline and switched them, without too much subtlety but with a lot of success. There are a few great characters that would have been the other gender fifty years ago (look for an uproariously evil Tilda Swinton, leaving her niche), but it’s most refreshing to see a really unapologetic lead female role come to the forefront and do whatever raunchy thing she wants in order to make us laugh. Not just a rough and savvy businesswoman who takes what’s hers, or a fearless vixen who keeps her man on a short leash; these are merely the shallow stand-ins that live in movies that are too afraid to give these characters any real depth. Schumer is unrelentingly crass, and as fearless as the character she has created, much to our happy surprise. “Trainwreck” is a fun and flashy romcom that knows what it’s all about. Fueled by a steady stream of pop culture, swearwords and alcohol, it’s enough to make anyone feel a little more like Amy, and a little more likely start living in the moment.