‘Trainwreck’s Unexpected Dose of The Feels

[caption id="attachment_22630" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Amy Schumer and Bill Hader in 'Trainwreck' Amy Schumer and Bill Hader in ‘Trainwreck’[/caption]


Trainwreck, WE HAD A DEAL. I go see you opening weekend instead of Ant-Man, you provide me with two hours of an effervescent blend of rom-com sweetness and dick jokes. Nowhere in this negotiation was there any discussion of GENUINE EMOTIONS. I didn’t sign up for this.

Trainwreck made me cry. As in weep. I’m not talking about my eyes welling up, or having to furtively swipe a single tear off my cheekbone, but full on is-there-snot-leaking-from-my nose CRYING. I’m sitting there in the theater wondering if there was some alternate trailer for this movie cut to “Everybody Hurts” that I missed. And hoping I’m not ruining my eye makeup. [I did.]

Things start off promising. I laughed out loud when we saw that Amy had a job writing for a magazine. Job in publishing is the free space in Rom-Com Bingo. That Amy writes for a grody men’s magazine called S’Tuffed signaled to me we were gonna get all the rom-com tropes but subverted in the same way our hard-drinking sexually-capricious heroine deviates from your standard female lead. That doesn’t happen. Hardly any other spaces on Rom-Com bingo get filled. There isn’t even a Meet Cute.

[caption id="attachment_22629" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Amy doesn't like spooning. Amy doesn’t like spooning.[/caption]


Amy and her romantic interest Aaron (Bill Hader) Meet Normal when she interviews him for a story for the magazine. They interact like normal humans who genuinely get along (well, exceptionally funny normal humans). They start dating, and there are some hiccups because Amy isn’t used to Real Relationships, but those hiccups don’t even result in any wacky misunderstandings. When Amy and Aaron get to their necessary third act near-breakup, it looks like a real relationship struggling because of interpersonal differences.  Ugh, real life.

[caption id="attachment_22628" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Amy and her sister Kim (Brie Larson) Amy and her sister Kim (Brie Larson)[/caption]


Meanwhile, in Trainwreck‘s most striking departure from the rom-com model, Amy has lots of stuff going on her life aside from dating this dude. Most notably, her complicated relationships with her family. Amy and her younger sister Kim (Brie Larson) get along, but Amy has trouble relating to Kim’s stable family life, with a square husband (Mike Birbiglia) and an oddly well-behaved stepchild. There’s further conflict between Amy and Kim as they deal with moving their father, who has multiple sclerosis, into assisted living. [Perhaps you can guess where the weeping kicks in.] The sister relationship in Trainwreck is as real and recognizable as the romance, if not more so. Schumer and Larson really nail the complicated interplay of jealousy and judgment between Amy and Kim.

There are also dick jokes. Trainwreck is very funny. Amy Schumer brings her magic, and the supporting cast is full of delightful oddball characters. I particularly liked a (TAN!) Tilda Swinton as Amy’s sociopathically brash editor and LeBron James as an extremely sensitive and supportive best friend to sports doctor Aaron. [Bill Hader is quite notably the straight man throughout, but he’s Bill Hader so he still gets in some big laughs.]

[caption id="attachment_22627" align="aligncenter" width="500"]LeBron James as LeBron James LeBron James as LeBron James is one of the comedic highlights of ‘Trainwreck’[/caption]


Somehow, Trainwreck pulls off segueing between the risque comic bits we all came for and its unexpected side of pathos and heartbreak.  While Judd Apatow’s confident direction deserves some of the credit, I think the most important factor here is Schumer’s impressive acting chops. She’s charismatic and funny enough that she should be a movie star even if she can’t really act, but she can. I hope this is the first of many Amy Schumer movies.

But next time I see one, I will adjust my expectations and bring along a pack of tissues.


Robin Hitchcock is a writer based in Pittsburgh, where there was a rather chilly reception to the scene where LeBron James talks about how great Cleveland is.