I know Schumer is clever enough to have written a romantic comedy to subvert the rest, but sadly, Trainwreck is not that film. It’s an easy out. A gender swap of the regular formula we know all to well.
So, how do I know that she could have written a heartfelt comedy, a la St. Vincent? Because half of the film is a heartfelt story about two sisters struggling to pay for their father’s nursing home. It has real characters, witty dialogue and a generally somber tone, and unfortunately, it never goes anywhere.
The other half of Trainwreck is the same trite crap you’ve seen over and over again. Schumer’s cynical, and often hilarious narration throughout the film only serves to distract the audience from finding the glaring seams where the two films have been stitched together. One minute the father is suffering from MS, resentful of the life he’s lived and the people around him, the next, it’s romantic montage of Schumer and Hader’s relationship.
The clash of tone is one thing, but the other more important aspect of the film is the message that it’s trying to put across. And there’s a clash with that as well. Trainwreck opens with grainy shot of Amy’s father explaining that his infidelity is akin to when children get bored of their toys. And because they’re children, they don’t really second guess that their father is connoting love to possession.
I thought that the line between the two, between the object of affection and plain affection, would be the crux of the film. I figured that Amy would subvert the normal rules of the Romantic comedy; that there would be no grand display of affection at the end to win over the love interest, as though they were some kind of brainless trophy. I assumed that Schumer’s character, Amy, wouldn’t mistake love for possession, like her father.
I was wrong. The romantic plotline of Trainwreck is just a simple gender swap. Instead of an out-of-control bachelor, it’s an out-of-control bachelorette. And instead of an ambitious young lady, we get career driven Hader, with LeBron James as the gossipy best friend. We get the regular plot points of their relationship. He finds out about her lurid past. She messes up and isn’t there for him on his big day. And ultimately the conflict of her past and his future come to a head with an ambiguous break up. But don’t worry! Because by the end, she wins him back like a trophy… or in this case, a toy.
She does a choreographed dance for him with some cheerleaders and they fall into each other’s arms. She might as well have held a boombox over her shoulders, with her trenchcoat rolled to her elbows, serenading Hader with Billy Joel as opposed to Peter Gabriel.
And don’t get me wrong. I love the quest tale love stories that came out of the eighties, the ones where the protagonist does some herculean trial to win back the love of their life. But it’s been stale for a while, and Schumer doesn’t really change it up with Trainwreck. Sure, it’s got some jokes and it’s a fine date movie, but beyond that, it’s a comedy by numbers that will be forgotten in three weeks time. That’s business, I know, but it’s a shame to see that Schumer didn’t tap into her talent to produce something that veered off the well-worn path of other romantic comedies before her.