OKAY, so the new Bridesmaids this is not. Rather than aligning itself with the progressive woman-led and woman-centric comedy penned by Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, Trainwreck is more akin to recent Melissa McCarthy vehicle, Spy. Sadly.
Sharing what was good about that – namely, that it’s a platform for some strong female comedy talent – it also shares what’s bad, and that’s a humdrum script and a pseudo-feminist approach. In fact, just as Spy positions Melissa McCarthy’s character as a person who doesn’t fit the idea of the perfect woman and is mocked because of it (this is where the majority of the film’s
jokes stem from), so is Amy Schumer’s character held up as someone who’s misguided, a woman to be forced into the mould she’s meant to fit by the end of the film. Far from this being an emboldening, feminist comedy, it promptly puts
our main protagonist back in her box. Let’s face it, it sets out its stallat the outset – judging her from the word ‘go’ in the title.Trainwreck, like Spy, is something of a paradox. While this woman is presented as a ‘car crash’, to use the British term – and a woman to be ‘fixed’ – by director Judd Apatow, who exploits Amy’s ‘normal-ness’ in order to poke fun at her for not measuring up, it’s also empowering. It does provide a platform for Amy Schumer – big news in US comedy – to stake her claim as Hollywood’s new everywoman funny girl. And hooray for that.
So is it funny? Only fitfully. The story – about a girl who grows up with the words of her dad ringing in her ears (that monogamy is not realistic) and goes through life choosing a series of one-night stands and casual relationships over intimacy and monogamy – has all the hallmarks of a Judd Apatow sex comedy. Written by Amy Schumer herself, it’s perfect fodder for the man behind sex comedies The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up and This is 40.
But though it has a smattering of cringe-worthy moments, including some excruciating sex scenes, it lacks the punch of other Apatow comedies, which go further with gross-out moments or crossed-the-line jokes. Amy Schumer is wonderfully engaging, however, as a leading lady and Bill Hader as the romantic interest – is just as good. They’ve got a natural chemistry that’s adorable.
With support from a cast-against-type Tilda Swinton as a hard-nosed Cockney editor and a very entertaining turn from former WWE star John Cena as an in-the-closet muscle-bound boyfriend (the cinema scene is good fun), there’s enough here to entertain for its two-hour running time.