Of the many movies that came out this summer, Trainwreck was perhaps an odd choice for one to see with one’s mother. Every “fuck” felt louder than all the other dialog, every semi-graphic sex scene seemed to last longer than the last, and when my mom leaned over and asked “What does ‘going down on’ someone mean?” my stomach sank into my toes.
Nevertheless, I would probably see it again. I might not want to pay $40 for my ticket and $76 for my popcorn again, but I’ve reviewed enough of the clips on IMDb to know that the movie has some Re-Watch Value. Not that my mom would necessarily join me.
For those of you who haven’t seen the trailer (is it just me, or do trailers these days give away basically the entire film?), Schumer plays a “commitment-phobic career woman,” also named Amy, whose father taught her, by word and deed, that “monogamy is not realistic.” Within the first ten minutes of the film, there’s a montage of men walking out her apartment door, holding their pants and shoes in their hands and looking confused, and, in some cases, a bit hurt. Amy, who works for a men’s magazine called S’Nuff, is asked to write an article on a sports doctor who performs surgery on famous athletes. Amy and the doctor, Aaron, hit it off, and while Amy is looking to pull her usual stunt of wham-bam-thank-you…sir, Aaron knows that they both like each other and should take a stab at being a couple.
The rest of the movie is a series of jokes that have been told and retold in romantic comedies through the ages, but not often from the woman’s perspective. It’s the story of how a person who hates commitment learns to stop worrying and love the love. It’s made more complex by the emotional additions of Amy’s father’s progressing MS, of her struggle with drugs and alcohol, and her tense relationship with her sister. There is the predictable breaking point where the two call it quits and Amy goes into a tailspin. And, spoiler alert, there is the predictable moment of clarity where Amy realizes she’s made a mistake and feels the need prove she’s not “too scared to try and fail.”
Between the predictability and some of the more off-color jokes—evidently a Schumer Staple, given her stand-up—this might have been a B-Grade movie for me. But what really sold it was that, in amongst the predictable, the mushy, and the tried and tired, there was a freshness that I’ve been looking for in a movie for a long time.
For instance, Amy is a “career woman,” but not in the same career woman that Sandra Bullock’s Margaret Tate is in The Proposal, or even that Anne Hathaway’s Andy Sachs is in The Devil Wears Prada. She’s a career woman like I imagine most are: she found a job that she’s good at and she has a healthy amount of ambition as well as an ample social life. She manages to have a job that’s important to her but doesn’t alienate half the world because of it. Is it just me or is that rare for a leading lady, let alone one in a romantic comedy? Moreover, during Amy’s tailspin montage, she gets fired, but also manages to get an article published in Vanity Fair: a considerable step up for her résumé. So the stereotype of the driven woman being taken down a peg by the “good guy with a conscience” doesn’t hold out here.
In general, Schumer seems to have had a lot of fun playing with gender roles while writing the screenplay. Amy’s boyfriend at the beginning of the movie, a guy who looks like “Mark Walberg ate Mark Wahlberg,” shows a “sensitive” side when he finds out that Amy sleeps around regularly. Amy responds to his “sensitivity” with apathy, playing the usual role of the male scumbag in rom-coms. Aaron’s best friend LeBron James asks Amy about her intentions with Aaron, asking her, “When you look at the clouds, do you see his face? Do you hear his name on the wind?” playing both the hopeless romantic and concerned father-of-the-good-girl roles. Actually, Aaron and LeBron have a record number of “feelings” conversations, conversations usually reserved for women in movies.
Overall, LeBron is another pleasant surprise for this movie. As a non-actor asked to play not only a speaking role, but a liberally comedic one, he shines, proving himself a triple threat: basketball, acting, and pissing off whole cities are all impressive talents. If he quit all of these careers right now, he’d still go down in the history books with the likes of Michael Jordan and The Rock.
Anyway, all this to say, if you’ve got $157 to blow in a movie theater this month and a rom-com that passes the Bechdel Test is something that catches your fancy, I’d suggest Trainwreck. It’s fun for the whole appropriately-aged family. Except maybe your mom.
Mary Margaret is a 2013 English, history, and secondary education grad who went rogue and became a Social Worker in Pennsylvania’s Child Welfare system. Specifically, she works as a caseworker in the Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network finding families for children and educating the masses about foster care, adoption, and permanency planning. She made it over the grad-school hurdle with gold stars and warm fuzzies and is on to the next big adventure: the unknown of adulthood. Her major writing dream right now is to finish her science fiction novel that explores the concurrent futures of child welfare and artificial intelligence.