Sunday, August 16, 2015

Trainwreck (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway


The subversive comic Amy Schumer has arrived in "Trainwreck" the latest relationship comedy directed by Judd Apatow.

Schumer is Amy Townsend, an outspoken and brash magazine writer whose life just hasn't been exactly right.  She always manages to say just the wrong thing. Right from the get-go, she is in conflict with the domineering and catty magazine head, Dianna (a nearly unrecognizable Tilda Swinton). Dianna boils over and assigns Amy to cover a sports story. Amy bristles.

To escape her woe, not least of which is a rivalry with her sister, Kim (Brie Larson) Amy drinks, has numerous one night stands and hurls insults, all to escape her existence.

Schumer is the screenwriter here and like Woody Allen before her, she uses impressionistic bits from her own life. Her father, played by Colin Quinn, contracts MS and her boyfriend played by wrestler John Cena is clearly based on Amy's own past beau Dolph Ziggler.

While the story, concerning the struggle of a cynical and promiscuous bratty woman, might be nothing new in Apatow's world, it is the weird and honest charisma of Schumer herself that holds us to the screen. As a person, she occupies the middle realm between cute and strange, between what is attractive and off putting. As a personality, Schumer is an outlier, saying what most every girl wants to say, but is pressed to discard or delay. Her comedy is usually percussive and immediate and it is in good effect in this outing, her first film role.

Amy meets her subject, a seemingly milquetoast Dr. Aaron Connors (Bill Hader) . As bumpy as the interview is, the doctor and Amy have an interest and agree to go to dinner after a comical office tour.

The two spend an increasing amount of time together with quirk and accord, but Amy's dysfunctional defenses rise to the fore, causing Aaron great distress.

In the character of Amy, one gets a more realistic picture of selfishness as depicted by Kristen Wiig in "Welcome to Me," which attempted to display a similar darkly humorous tone. Here, the key is perfect. When Amy walks out on Aaron's award ceremony, she does not apologize and is clearly damaged and dangerous.

Though the plot sometimes follows routine including an all too silly intervention scene with Chris Evert, Marv Albert and a wooden Matthew Broderick, many of the segments are sharp and cutting. With an eerie tone reminiscent of "Play It Again, Sam" Amy Schumer's best material occurs in a movie theater when her blunt bruiser boyfriend gets into a reluctant fight with another couple over an hysterical war of words.

Another visceral bit occurs in a hospital. When Amy witnesses knee surgery, she instantly vomits green goo on the window. Alas, the actress does resemble Linda Blair, to the point of Aaron mentioning it in conversation.

There is also a disquieting part, involving a teen intern (Erza Miller) who wants to be sexually hit while crying out for his mother.

Amy is duped into consent and fired.

In every social situation, Amy is the iconoclast and irritant, a usual type in many "shock" comedies. But here is the twist: she is one hundred percent real and believable.

Basketball superstar LeBron James is here and does well. His lines are funny and he has a quick repartee.

Amusing celebrity cameos aside, the real adhesive is the chemistry between Schumer and Hader who make the outrageousness into some entertaining physics of cause and effect.

Devotees of Judd Apatow will recognize his usual championed advice for couples to stay together at all cost. Amy Schumer gives the usual monogamous message of "Trainwreck" a spaced out and refreshing flavor. By employing the autobiographical artillery of Woody Allen, she fires back at her circumstances and even aims a jab at Allen himself. A combative comedy under the guise of the conventional, Amy Schumer alone is a solitary soldier. Compelling, feckless and awkward, she refuses any apology, which makes this comic and actor all the more watchable.

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