There is a wonderfully poignant scene right towards the end of Judd Apatow’s Trainwreck where Amy Townsend who finally looks old enough to be in her late 20s, admits to her younger, much more with it sister, “I am broken.” And it gets you, right in the heart where all your (not-so) secret vulnerabilities and insecurities live. God knows, it got me.
Hello y’all, welcome to my first review on this site. I don’t often review movies because I enjoy them too much and it seems pointless to opinionate on anything just because I have a soapbox to do it from. But, Trainwreck, Trainwreck deserves talking about. Not because it redefines the way romantic comedies will be treated in the years to come or because it is funny and warm and heartbreaking and just so fucking GOOD, and of course, it is….but because like Chef, it touched me. My heart. And I would like to talk about why.
The story in a nutshell is this: Amy Townsend (Amy Schumer) is an almost-alcoholic, talented writer working at S’Nuff, a GQ-Cosmo parody of a Manhattan magazine run by a nearly unrecognizable Style Goddess Tilda Swinton whose latest assignment turns out to be Dr Aaron Connors, a Sports doctor who casually counts LeBron James as his best friend. Yes, it’s that kind of a movie, y’all so suck it up.
The premise sounds like anything Kate Hudson, Anne Hathaway, Mark Ruffalo and Matthew McConaughey have done in the early-mid 2000s (not counting Ghosts of Girlfriends Past which was 2011), but here’s where TW takes the genre and turns it on its silly, bubblegum head.
Amy is the screw up.
She casually sleeps with everything that moves, and sometimes doesn’t even that after she gets what she wants, like every male lead at the beginning of a romantic comedy movie. She has a dysfunctional relationship with her womanizing father (Colin Quinn) and her harrowed but utterly normal sister (Brie Larson) whom she disdains every opportunity she gets. She has the requisite nice boyfriend, a delightful John Cena flexing his comedic muscles as well as a toned hot BOD (oh my GOSH) who dreams of having Screwup Amy as the Queen of his Crossfit Kingdom. Her friend is fellow SNL alumni Vanessa Bayer who works at S’Nuff and casually takes Amy’s Exec editor job without much remorse and they still remain friends, like every bro-relationship that ever existed.
Amy is so much like a guy that she doesn’t even like to spend the night at a man’s place once she’s Wham Bammed them.
Aaron on the other hand, played by a man who I have LOVED ever since I first saw him on SNL, the incomparable Bill Hader, is just himself. He is a good guy. He does Doctors without Borders and dunks a basketball on LeBron James (a feat which even he recognizes shouldn’t be possible in the physical universe) and generally behaves like an actual person instead of the jerk with a heart of gold who is fixed by the love of a good woman. He is a NICE GUY, not without his flaws, of course (he wears tightey whities, YUCK!) but not the smooth as Lagavulin Romantic Hero that we have come to expect from this genre.
So what happens when these two opposites meet? Everything that is expected. She is attracted, he is attracted; they start dating. And falling in love. They go to movies, watch boats at Central Park and even make Amy sick by how cute they are. And they make Amy scared that she’ll do something to mess it up, which is such a NORMAL reaction for a screwup that I was surprised to see it being acknowledged on film.
Amy knows she isn’t good enough for him. She knows her father is a cheating, lying bastard of a man. She knows her sister has it very good (a house in the burbs, a stepkid and another on the way) and a man who loves her for what she is, even when he doesn’t understand her. And she waits for the other shoe to fall.
Which, it does, when she picks her job over an important awards function that he wants her to be a part of and it leads to the inevitable meltdown which leads to the inevitable breakup, which leads to the inevitable self-actualization and inevitable grand gesture HEA. All par for the course for a romantic comedy, and that is what Trainwreck is.
But, the thing that sets TW apart, again, is Amy. Amy is messed up. The woman who has everything and makes no apologies for it, is the confused, hurting, disappointed, cynical woman who cannot handle a mature relationship. And Aaron is the decent guy. Not Prince Charming, nor Sir Galahad who wants to fix her, but Just THE DECENT GUY (I seriously cannot stress this enough).
Aaron is not incredibly handsome, nor is he overly smooth but you can see his earnestness and his heart when he looks at Amy and tells her, almost helplessly, “I am in love with you. I am crazy about you.” And I will admit it, I was so envious of an on-screen character for that one moment, because every woman wants a man who doesn’t know why he needs a woman but needs her anyway.
The jokes are funny because the jokes aren’t set up as gags. It is unbelievable to have LeBron James interrogate Amy about her intentions toward his best pal, Aaron, but it is exactly what best friends do. They look out for each other. There are a couple heartrending moments, one of which I already mentioned at the beginning of this review and the funeral scene straight up had me weeping, which is extremely unexpected in a romantic comedy.
It is different because a woman wrote a romantic movie about how women, real, fucked up, damaged women behave in love and sometimes cock it up with perfectly good guys. Yes, it’s a romance so obviously she dresses up as a cheerleader and promises to spread joy in the future but GOD, to have a woman acknowledge that we have sex, we think about sex, we enjoy it as much as men and to have LeBron James say “make love” instead of “banging or screwing or nailing”…. Well, you get the picture, don’t you?
Judd Apatow, who is best-known for his sleazeball comedies (40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up, This is 40) gets out of his lead actors’ way and just lets the story unfold and the result is a romance you don’t mind watching on repeat.
Yes, its overly long (just like this review), could have definitely done without that Client Intervention scene, Ames, but you know what, I am absolutely OK with it. Absolutely OK. Just Like I know you are, with Aaron.
And, even more importantly, he is with you.
For someone who hasn’t written any romance for a whole year because of how fucked up, damaged and unloved she felt on the inside, Trainwreck, Judd Apatow and Amy Schumer held up a mirror and told me, “It’s ok to be messed up. You’ll find a decent guy too who’ll be absolutely OK with you. God knows, if I can, so can you.” And you know what? It’s what every woman should really want.
A Decent Man who is absolutely OK with you. Not Prince Charming or Sir Galahad, because in this day and age, we rescue ourselves, y’all. We just need a gentle reminder from someone who is absolutely OK with us that we can.
Image Credit: Net7Art