Quite likely the year’s top romantic comedy debuted last weekend after receiving much acclaim following an advance screening at this spring’s South by Southwest Film Festival.
“Trainwreck,” the mostly auto-biographical feature film debut of comedian Amy Schumer, provides many of the sexually explicit jokes fans of her stand-up comedy love, but with some heart thrown in to provide a nice balance between the hilarity and more serious matters of love and loss.
Traditional rom-com fans may be off-put by how casually Schumer’s character hops in and out of bed with men as conventional stereotypes about gender roles in romantic comedies are flipped on their heads in “Trainwreck.” Schumer takes on the role of the perpetually single player, floating from one casual dalliance to another, while “Saturday Night Live” veteran Bill Hader is the unexpected romance that forces Schumer to re-examine her relationships.
It’s hard to picture Hader as a romantic lead, but in “Trainwreck,” he’s able to pull it off with relative success. Playing opposite Schumer at her best is a thankless challenge for any actor, though Hader seems especially game to roll with both the comedic and dramatic punches.
Comedian Colin Quinn gives the finest individual performance of his career, playing Schumer’s alcoholic, field-playing father. The rom-com boasts quality cameo appearances on small and large scales, from the intervention trio of Matthew Broderick, Chris Evert and a scene-stealing Marv Albert to an almost unrecognizable Tilda Swinton as Schumer’s brash magazine editor.
People will immediately recognize basketball mega-star LeBron James, playing a fictional version of himself as Hader’s wingman/best friend, and James proves he can bring the comedy, but among the more stunt cast characters of “Trainwreck,” it’s wrestling’s John Cena that gives the best performance as one of Schumer’s many love interests throughout the film.
There’s some slight hiccups within “Trainwreck” once the raunchier comedy takes a backseat to the more emotional romance between Schumer and Hader, but on the whole, the transition doesn’t feel overly forced.
Director Judd Apatow — who struggled with heavier scenes in both “Funny People” and “This is 40” — handles the dramatic moments much better this go-round, mostly thanks to Schumer’s intelligent and fresh script and quality performances from both romantic leads.
“Trainwreck” is filmed as if Woody Allen made a raunchy romantic comedy, as Apatow is able to deliver on visual homages to movies like “Annie Hall” and “When Harry Met Sally,” though “Trainwreck” can’t really match either classic film in content or emotional center.
It’s a refreshing take on the genre that plays out very well, with plenty of laughs for both men and women throughout the film. Schumer probably isn’t the first actress that comes to mind when casting the perfect romantic comedy in your mind, but she’s quite adept at making the most of her well-written script.