Friday, July 24, 2015

Trainwreck: The Romcom is Back

Amy Schumer is one of the funniest people on the planet right now. If you've seen even a single sketch from her Comedy Central show, Inside Amy Schumer, you know that is an indisputable fact. So it should not be a surprise that Trainwreck, a movie written by and starring Schumer, is a laugh riot. What is a surprise however, is how wonderfully romantic this movie is, managing to give you the feels while simultaneously making you laugh maniacally. Earlier this week I wrote about Catastrophe, a show written by two comedians that manages to embrace filthy humour and heartfelt romance in one glorious package. Trainwreck accomplishes the same feat. That is the true purpose of a romantic comedy, and it's superb to see this dying genre resurrected in such splendid fashion.

Schumer stars as Amy, a single New York woman who enjoys drinking, getting stoned, and having sex. Thanks to early childhood experiences, she is of the opinion that "monogamy isn't realistic," and is constantly at odds with her sister, Kim (Brie Larson), who is married with a stepson and has her life very much together. Amy writes for a men's magazine, and she is assigned to do a profile on a sports doctor who treats the New York Knicks and other high-profile athletes. And so she meets Dr. Aaron Conners (Bill Hader). While their initial meeting is a little contentious (in typical romcom fashion), they quickly find their rhythm, and before long, Amy discovers she is in a full-blown relationship. But a leopard can't change its spots overnight, and the entire thing starts to unravel.

There are some very familiar romcom beats throughout the movie (the ending in particular hearkens back to great romcom moments), but what is so thrilling about Trainwreck is what has always been so thrilling about romantic comedies in general: the chemistry between the two leads. Schumer and Hader are so witty, quick, and in sync with each other. It's like watching a 30's screwball comedy with Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell or Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. Here are two actors who are happy to act foolish, don't take themselves too seriously, lob jokes at each other with unrelenting glee, and then melt your heart with grand romantic gestures. It's just spectacular.

Lest I forget, the supporting cast is magnificent, which is the key to most romantic comedies. While the central pair need to sizzle, the antics of the people around them are equally important to keep things moving, and in this movie we have people like Colin Quinn, Tilda Swinton, and of course, LeBron James, to keep things bizarre and interesting. And there's the great city of New York, always playing its part in the background. I was on vacation in Toronto when I saw this movie, which certainly colors my feelings about the film, but it managed to capture everything I love about the city. Quite frankly, any movie that sets a scene in Alice's Teacup is instantly on my Top 10 list.

Amy Schumer's writing is predominantly responsible for the greatness of Trainwreck. She has done a wonderful job of creating a character with a confident, cool-girl exterior who also has insecurities and a vulnerability that isn't a weakness but just one more facet to making her a complete human being. Director Judd Apatow also deserves a huge amount of credit for letting Schumer run with this movie and ensuring that the final cut is true to her incredible vision. Hader's sensible silliness is the perfect foil to Schumer's manic energy and the two of them have proven that they are movie stars who deserve many more leading roles in the future. So run to the theater and experience Trainwreck. You will laugh uproariously and be swept off your feet.

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