What to Watch for Wednesdays: Review of Trainwreck (Warning: Contains Spoilers)


* Photo Credit: jebutopia.com

Trainwreck is not your typical romantic comedy. Amy Schumer, who makes her big screen debut as an actor and writer, challenges common Hollywood representations of gender. By casting herself as the lead, Schumer inherently brings to her character (Amy) a strong and honest voice that is heard by everyone.

This film does so many things right. It is relentlessly hilarious and brutally honest. In one of the opening scenes, Amy’s father (Colin Quinn) tells his two young daughters that he and their mother are getting divorced. He explains that being married to the same woman you’re whole life is like being able to play with only one doll. Sometimes, you just want to play with your doll’s best friend, for example (wink-wink). Then he teaches them that “monogamy isn’t realistic” and has them repeat it over and over again.

This flashback sets the tone for the movie—funny, real, and willing to delve into topics that aren’t necessarily comfortable to discuss.

Trainwreck is so different from many of the male-driven comedies out there since its story is told primarily through a woman’s perspective. Amy is a strong single woman who makes the most out of not being tied down. She drinks and smokes all the time, and she fucks whomever she wants.

Not to mention, her career is blossoming at the fictional magazine S’nuff. She’s one of the lead writers there and is on the verge of receiving a big-time promotion. Amy’s well-paying job means that she doesn’t have to rely on someone else (i.e. a boyfriend or husband) for financial support. She’s able to live in a nice Manhattan apartment alone.

Amy has a lot of agency, unlike the quintessential rom-com woman. Perhaps the most explicit demonstrations of Amy having agency are during her encounters with men. When the film flash-forwards to the present day (after the divorce news), we see a montage of Amy having sex with at least four different men. In each situation, Amy is in complete control, instructing the guys to perform various sexual tasks (like going down on her). Once she is “finished”, Amy sends the men home and continues on with her life.

It was so refreshing not to see her excitedly jot down the experiences in a diary or daydream about what marriage will be like with one of the men she slept with. Those tropes are thankfully absent from Trainwreck.

Initially, I wasn’t in love with the way that men were portrayed in the film. I thought Schumer made them out to be very weak. But after a long text message conversation with Pat, my views changed drastically. We are so accustomed to seeing men as these hyper masculine beings—very “manly”, always craving sex—who are in control. Schumer flips this tired type representation on its head and comes up with a new way to understand men.

Amy’s first true love interest, Stephen, is the perfect example of the nuanced male figure. He doesn’t know how to talk dirty during sex, he is unable to adequately stand up for himself when a fellow moviegoer disrespects him, and he is almost brought to tears upon learning that Amy has been fooling around with other guys.

What’s particularly funny about Stephen’s inability to do anything right is that it juxtaposes his perfect physique. Stephen, played by WWE superstar John Cena, has the body of a Greek God (just telling it like it is). From his appearance, Stephen looks as if he would be a brainless meathead, eager to stick his “yoohoo” in anything that moves.

Instead, Stephen is a sensitive guy who envisions spending the rest of his life with Amy. He wants Amy to be his “cross-fit Queen,” even though she is nowhere near the exercise connoisseur that he is. He’s a much more real person than the hyper sexual male figure.

Stephen’s ineptitudes and ignorance are not signs of weakness. He’s just clueless, like everyone else in the world when it comes to relationships—including Amy.

Amy clearly has no idea how to be in a “real relationship.” She sleeps around with numerous men despite the fact that she’s dating Stephen, and even encourages her boo to get with other girls. Amy thinks Stephen would be happy that she’s giving him a free pass. Amy is clueless when it comes to developing deep relationships with her sexual partners (although that changes by the end of the film).

Amy’s father Gordon, by contrast, is the prime example of hyper masculinity. He was a sleaze-ball as a younger man, constantly cheating on his wife, drinking heavily, and teaching his daughters (at a young age) that marriage always fails. Although his past was filled with excitement and exhilaration, Gordon’s present is bleak. He’s now a sick and lonely old man who must spend the rest of his life by himself in an assisted care facility.

Amy inherits her father’s stubbornness and belief that “monogamy isn’t realistic.” But she changes, and it’s her growth that makes this movie so effective in what it tries to accomplish.

Amy is introduced to her primary love interest Aaron (Bill Hader) through a work assignment. The two hit it off after the second day they meet and wind up falling for each other—even though Amy tells Aaron to face the other way in bed because she doesn’t like spooning and hates having someone breathe on her while she sleeps.

Although they care deeply about one another, Amy and Aaron make plenty of mistakes in their relationship. Amy takes a phone call while Aaron is accepting a prestigious award for his charity work oversees. Aaron tells Amy he loves her for the first time on the day her father dies. They don’t really know what they’re doing most of the time, which help makes the film relatable.

Amy and Aaron decide to take a break over a silly dispute, but Amy soon recognizes how much she cares about her man. It hits Amy when her cute (yet intolerable, at least in her eyes) nephew shows her floor plans of his house, with a bed included for Amy and Aaron when they stay over. Amy tries to explain that Aaron won’t be around much anymore, but realizes that she needs to be with her best friend. Starting to sound completely rom-comish? It is, but the over-the-top, unrestrained hilarity makes you forget about that quickly.

Throughout the film, Amy makes fun of certain “guy” things. She says that sports are dumb and she thinks less about people who care about them (mildly offensive). Amy mocks the Knicks City Dancers by calling them strippers.

The way Amy wins Aaron back is by becoming one of the things that she hates the most—a cheerleader. Amy sets up a scenario where she and the Knicks City Dancers perform a routine while Aaron looks on. Of course, Aaron laughs and the two end up making out on the Madison Square Garden court.

The reason for Aaron’s change of heart towards Amy was not because she took on the role of sexy dancer (i.e. she did not become a sex object that guys drool over). She was incredibly goofy during the routine, demonstrating her inflexibility, poor coordination, and inability to keep up.

The takeaway from the scene is not that being a sexy dancer gets you the guy. It’s that taking a risk and putting yourself out there (even if it’s uncomfortable) is the real way to gain entry into someone’s heart.

The movie concludes with Amy laying on top of Aaron, and the two telling each other that their willing to give their relationship a try. Amy and Aaron are uncertain about what the future holds, but they clearly want to be together to find out.

Trainwreck is one heck of a movie. It successfully shatters common gender stereotypes (and rom-com tropes) in Hollywood films, while being hysterical at the same time. Plus, Amy Schumer proves why she’s the best female comedian in the world today. She gives a remarkable debut performance.

Trainwreck is an absolute must-see.

Concluding Thoughts:

1) How funny is Trainwreck?

You’ll be laughing the entire time. Try to see in a theater where there aren’t many people so that you can catch all the jokes. I know I missed some!

2) What should I know going in?

Amy Schumer tells it like it is, and that is reflective in the character she plays. Not surprisingly, Amy is based on Schumer in real life. Also, if you want a taste of Schumer’s before seeing the film, check out her show Inside Amy Schumer (available on Hulu and YouTube) or her recent interview with Jimmy Fallon.

3) Is Trainwreck worth the thirteen bucks?

Absolutely. While I don’t know if it’s as good as Bridesmaids, it’s definitely in that stratosphere.

4) Movie Rating: 9.1/10