I know it’s not Amy Schumer’s job to be all things to all women. I know that.
We’ve grown to love Schumer for poking fun at sexism and being unapologetically flawed and human in her stand-up and her sketch comedy show Inside Amy Schumer.
So a film seemed like the logical next step for the woman described by GQ as the “funniest, gutsiest comedian in America”.
She may have written Trainwreck, her new Judd Apatow-directed film, but Schumer is worth so much more than this rom-com.
Going in, what I wanted was a celebration of the anti-manic-pixie-dream-girl, the antithesis of the “cool girl”, coined by Gillian Flynn in Gone Girl – in other words, a real, live human.
At first, that’s what I got.
Schumer’s character in the film is Amy Townsend. Film-Amy is a sex-loving, weed-smoking boozer with a great job in New York as a writer for lad’s mag S’nuff (article: Does garlic make semen taste different?).
She’s also kind of a jerk. She cheats on the guy who wants to marry her, sneaks out of bed so she doesn’t have to spoon, and deliberately alienates her sister (Brie Larson), who loves her most. She makes endless fun of her sister’s small stepson. She’s complex.
Her behaviour can be explained somewhat by the first scene in the film, a flashback to when she and her little sister are kids.
Her father (Colin Quinn) explains to the girls why he and their mother are divorcing.
Monogamy “isn’t realistic,” he says, employing an analogy about just playing with one doll for the rest of your life, and what would you do if that doll didn’t want to play with you anymore?
As an adult, Amy’s mother has died and her father, to whom she remains close, has been moved into a nursing home.
Everything changes during one meeting with her colleagues and her hard-as-nails British editor (so brilliantly portrayed by an almost unrecogniseable Tilda Swinton).
When one of her fellow writers pitches a story about a sports doctor, Amy mutters something about how much she dislikes sports, winning herself the job of interviewing the doctor.
She meets the doctor, Aaron (Bill Hader) and immediately reveals herself to be clueless about sport.
“I don’t know why we treat these athletes like heroes just ’cause they can skate fast or kick a ball in a net. I just think it’s weird. No offence. I just think that sports are stupid and anyone who likes them is just a lesser person,” she tells him, echoing my sentiments almost exactly.
She makes fun of the cheerleaders. She has no idea who LeBron James (who is a comic revelation here, by the way) is. She has a panic attack on the gait-testing treadmill.
Eventually, she and Aaron fall in love, but, following classic rom-com formula, it all falls apart when Amy has a kind of “What’s wrong with you that you want to be with me?” meltdown.
Watch the Trainwreck trailer… Post continues after video.
Trainwreck inverts classic romantic comedy tropes. Here, Amy is the messy, fucked-up, eternal teenager who requires taming by the love of a good man.
How does this happen?
Well, she has to get over the commitment phobia instilled in her by her dad, stop sleeping around, fill a large box with every bottle and every bong in her house (I was hoping this would be Bridget Jones-style and she’d relapse on her bad habits within days and yet still get the guy — nope), lose her job and join a cheerleading squad.
To me, Amy the boozer, the stoner, the walk-of-shamer, the sports-hater — she’s funny. She’s interesting. If she is a trainwreck, she’s a pretty successful one.
Why does she have to become a different person in order to be worthy of love?
Schumer described her Trainwreck character as “in her 30s, and her behaviour [drinking, sleeping around] isn’t really cute anymore” on Ellen recently.
I found that statement a bit jarring, considering that her show is all about poking holes in gender roles and stereotypes. Why does she have to be “cute”?
Schumer’s sketch show is subversive. Trainwreck is a mainstream rom-com that, once you get past some hilarious set-pieces (an awkward sexual encounter with a 16-year-old who calls her “daddy”, an epic walk-of-shame back from Staten Island) concludes just the way they always do: happily ever after.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that – but I hoped a film written by and starring Amy Schumer would be different. I mean, a rom-com taking the piss out of traditional rom-coms? I think we’ve been there before, you guys.
Don’t get me wrong: this is a good film, it’s fun, it’s funny, it’s got all the things you want in a romantic comedy and more (such as Daniel Radcliffe and Marisa Tomei in their fictional film The Dog Walker).
I know it’s not Schumer’s job to be all things to all women. I just hoped that in the film, she wouldn’t have to change herself to find love.
More on one of our favourite Amys (there are so many good Amys – Poehler, Adams, Winehouse, Schumer)…