Tilda’s glamorous makeover: Tilda Unrecognizable
Published: July 17, 2015
Tilda’s glamorous makeover: Tilda Unrecognizable, It sounds condescending to say that Amy Schumer has written for herself in “Trainwreck” the kind of choice, juicy role men usually get.
In fact, the very notion sounds like something Schumer would skewer viciously in “Inside Amy Schumer,” her television show. Yet women too often are relegated to playing cheerful love objects in romantic comedies, which, beneath all the sex and profane hilarity and drinking and drugging, is what “Trainwreck” is.
Here, Schumer, playing a woman who boozes and has sex and misbehaves on her own terms, gets what’s traditionally the male role in this kind of film, and with the help of Judd Apatow’s direction, she kills it. She is hilarious, fearless in her pursuit of a joke. Things get a little too lovey-dovey at the end – Apatow tends toward that direction as a general thing. But Schumer, who wrote the film, has given us someone to root for, who, at least at the exhilarating start, is as much blue-mouthed antihero as heroine.
The film begins with Amy’s father (Colin Quinn) explaining to his young daughters that monogamy simply isn’t possible, nor should it be attempted. Grown-up Amy has taken this to heart; she has a kind of, sort of meathead boyfriend-type person (John Cena, an exceedingly good sport), but she sleeps around whenever she likes. She also mocks her sister, Kim (Brie Larson), who is happily married with a son.
One supposes that, with all the meaningless sex and relentless drinking, something is missing in Amy’s life; one supposes that, this being a romantic comedy, that thing is love. The hard-won emotion arrives in the person of Aaron (Bill Hader), a sports surgeon. Amy, a magazine writer, is assigned to profile him, even though she doesn’t like sports. (An unrecognizable Tilda Swinton has a blast as Amy’s coldly calculating editor.)
Amy is horrified that Aaron not only likes her, but is a genuinely good person who is interested in more than what she looks for in a man. Like, say, staying over (a no-no in her book). He’s friends with LeBron James (playing a miserly version of himself and doing it really well – he’s funny) and a slew of other top athletes. This means nothing to Amy, of course, but even she notes that it’s notable.
An aside: The film does a good job with journalism ethics, especially an explanation of how “off the record” really works (you have to agree to it up front). But once the romance takes off, the journalism realism falls by the wayside.
Actually, that’s not an aside. Once the romance takes off, the entire film shifts. It becomes more of a conventional romantic comedy, albeit one with really dirty words. And it remains hilarious, because Schumer seems to be incapable of being anything else.
So the movie is still funny, but not quite as unique as it was at the start. Which is OK, I guess. Apatow rivals Steven Spielberg as a devotee of the overabundance of heart. (Both were children of broken marriages and have said this colored their view, once they had control of the way stories end.)
What’s nice is how smart the film is. Schumer gives a nod to plenty of other romantic comedies, not to make fun of them but to honor them. Being funny is hard work and she has put in the hours of toil. Yet – and this doubtless has something to do with Apatow – although she’s known for flamethrower truth-telling, here there is an underlying sweetness. Surely, there is no one who would begrudge her, or her character, the satisfaction of getting what she deserves. There’s nothing wrong with being happy.
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