The Amy Show – ★★★½
American comic Amy Schumer has been everywhere recently. Lengthy, complimentary magazine features showing up everywhere online, being anointed to a spokesperson on gun rights and of course a new series of “Inside Amy Schumer”, the multi-award winning sketch series for Comedy Central.
In Trainwreck Schumer teams up with American comedy’s great modern promoter Judd Apatow. Having been pivotal in increasing the reach of Steve Carrell (The 40-Year-Old Virgin), Seth Rogen (“Freaks and Geeks”, Knocked Up) and Jonah Hill (Superbad). In recent times as his rate of directing films has slowed down, he is becoming as well known for his work in getting female-led films and TV shows produced. He’s left the guys behind to bring Lena Dunham to stardom by executive producing her HBO TV show ‘Girls’, producing that great girl-friendly comedy of our time Bridesmaids and also getting Netflix to give a two year green light to “Love”, an upcoming series which he’s co-producing with writer Lesley Arfin.
Trainwreck is the story of Amy, a girl who likes to sleep around, drink and have fun. She’s no fan of commitment and her job as a writer in the ridiculous “S’nuff Magazine” allows her to engage in the kind of sarky indifferent lifestyle that suits her down to the ground. The magazine is headed up by Dianna (a chameleon-like Tilda Swinton) who thinks an article from a non-sports fan about Aaron, a sports doctor (Bill Hader), would make for some good reading (she also commissions things like “Ugliest Celebrity Kids Under Six”, “You’re Not Gay, She’s Boring” and “Does garlic change the taste of semen?” so the woman’s judgement should be trusted…). Needless to say, Amy falls for Aaron but their relationship hits a few bumps in the road with it all being a little too perfect for the normally more shambolic Amy to take.
Rounding out the story are Amy’s father who suffers from MS (Colin Quinn), her sister and brother-in-law (Brie Larson and Mike Birbiglia), her co-worker and best bud (SNL’s Vanessa Bayer) and a former love played by muscley WWE star John Cena. Oh and the greatest basketball player of the modern era Lebron James performs admirably as himself too. Best in show are definitely Bill Hader’s efforts as a level-headed foil for rowdy Amy and the brilliant Tilda Swinton whose orange tan and blonde hair leaves her looking more like a landlady of the Queen Vic on Albert Square.
Schumer’s script pitches her Amy (who she has revealed has a lot in common with her, but isn’t her so to speak) in the traditional role of the male who doesn’t want to grow up and is just enjoying using women for cheap thrills, with concepts like love, commitment and honesty kept firmly at the door. We’re allowed to explore Amy’s emotional issues a little with some talk about her mother’s death, the challenges of her father’s MS and of course the experience of that wonderful reality of being an unattached woman in your early thirties – baby showers and kiddie talk. It’s not nearly as dark as it could have been, with only slight humorous allusions to the depression and alcoholism that could well have been engulfing our fictional Amy.
Trainwreck is enjoyable and very funny and has to be highly recommended. But it’s also a little disappointing as it doesn’t really say a huge amount new about women and relationships, in fact it’s really just re-telling a story told a hundred times before (think Seth Rogen in Knocked Up), only this time with a raunchy, confident lady at the front and centre. Ultimately by going the safety first route, it’s going to get the film seen by a whole lot more than would go to see something like last year’s self-proclaimed abortion comedy Obvious Child (in fact you can do the maths yourself with US box office takings of $3.1m versus Trainwreck’s $91m).
If Apatow and Schumer are to work again, here’s hoping that it’s as downright hilarious as this, but also manages to fit in some of her edgier ideas that get showcased in “Inside Amy Schumer”.
Released across Ireland on August 14th 2015
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