Amy (Schumer) has life sussed: good job, great sex life, no commitments. That is, until she meets doctor Aaron (Hader).
Judd Apatow’s fifth comedy in the key of life is written by and stars so-hot-right-now stand-up Amy Schumer as a salty New Yorker named Amy. If she’s new to you, Schumer’s style could best be described as amiable smut — quit blushing, we all know what vaginas are for... It is her movie. And she barrels through it like a preposterously flirty bowling ball.
Amy is our trainwreck. By day a journalist at Snuff magazine, an urbane monthly enquiring whether garlic makes semen taste any different. She’s smart, mildly ambitious, and in possession of a “sick” apartment, an eye-opening wardrobe, and the shrugging realisation she may not be a model citizen.
For by night, Amy will likely be engaged in another meaningless hook-up. We’ll montage through a procession of Schumer’s one-nighters pre-, post- and, indeed, mid-coitus, including, but not exclusive to, a literally outstanding cameo from wrestling beefcake John Cena. Amy’s life philosophy is simple: bodily fluids are fine, but feelings should never be exchanged. No spooning, no sweet-talk, no sleep over. QED: she is a serial bloke.
This is much the Apatow way: another frank and comic exploration of the clutter of modern sexual politics. Amy might appear the diametric opposite of Steve Carell’s 40 Year-Old Virgin, but they share a lingering loneliness. Trainwreck will consider what happens when an immovable object meets Mr. Right.
So, this is your classic Hollywood romcom with a cynical, headachy frame of mind. A romcom whose poles have been reversed: given the relatively upmarket assignment of profiling A-list sports doctor Aaron (Bill Hader), Amy takes him to bed as nonchalantly as ordering coffee, and he has the cheek to actually like her. When he calls the following day, she tailspins into Swingers-parodying outrage. “Hang up, he’s obviously like sick or something!” shrieks acumen-deficient besty Vanessa Bayer.
Hader makes the entirely sensible decision of keeping out of the way of the Macy’s Parade that is his leading lady. Dialling back the cuckoo for straight-man, he’s still likably offbeat. You root for them, sensing Aaron’s calm will moor Amy, just as her vitality will liberate him.
Not all the jokes land. Lines of enquiry are picked up then dropped. There’s that rambling quality that Apatow enjoys: the sense of the movie making itself up as it goes along — the freeform extemporising of stand-up. The offices of Snuff, run by Tilda Swinton’s terrifying hybrid of Anna Wintour and Kathy Burke, are pitched at ludicrous. Still, basketball megalith LeBron James works some fine self-mockery as Hader’s Downton Abbey-obsessed life-coach. And Amy shares a tight bond with her sister Kim (the lovely Brie Larson) that is sensitive and volatile.
It’s a fine, noisy New York movie, clattering through apartments, magazine suites, coffee shops, hospitals and bars to the gunfire of Amy’s unwise stilettoes. There is a perfect Subway gag, doubly funny because of how well it skewers a classic romcom cliché. They riff on Woody Allen (cue: Gershwin). Hyperactive and uncouth it might be, but Amy is Annie Hall for the Girls generation. Hers is an engaging line in self-deprecating feminism. She might be a mess, but she’s her own mess. So she’s Alvy Singer too: self-destructive, erratic, familiar, and very, very funny indeed.
At times it feels as if five different films are going on at once, but Schumers whip-smart delivery and no-holds perkiness keeps it all in place. Just as her director wilfully mines his own life for laughs, there is a whole lot of Amy in Amy.