Movie review: Amy Schumer comedy is smart, funny, not really a "Trainwreck"

Brad Keefe, Columbus Alive

Given Amy Schumer's trajectory in pop culture and her first feature film's title, I went into "Trainwreck" expecting the outrageous. I was not surprised by how smart the comedy is; I was surprised by how straightforward it plays.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. Schumer - who also scripted the Judd Apatow-directed comedy - employs some of the old tropes and clichés of the romantic comedy with some effective (if not radical) gender flips.

While "Trainwreck" doesn't quite approach the subversive genius of Schumer's TV show "Inside Amy Schumer," there's some sly commentary and a warm heart beneath the expected laughs, which are plentiful.

Amy (Schumer) was taught at a young age by her then-divorcing father (a perfectly cast Colin Quinn) that "monogamy is impossible." Working as a writer at a magazine in New York City, adult Amy has embraced that mantra, as she's gleefully non-committal in relationships. Her current steady-ish guy (wrestler John Cena) is clearly more committed than she.

But, in classic rom-com fashion, all this changes when she meets Aaron (Bill Hader), a sports surgeon to the stars and a generally good dude. When Amy is assigned to do a story on Aaron, their eventual hookup comes as no surprise to her. The feelings that come afterward are what catch her off-guard.

Against expectation - and the marketing of the movie - Amy's character isn't much of a trainwreck. She drinks too much (LOL!), occasionally smokes pot (OMG!) and has casual sex (WTF?). The comedy here is plenty raunchy, but the only thing really shocking is that there aren't more comedies like this with a female lead.

"Trainwreck" does reverse gender stereotypes in some clever ways - although they're more indicative of how far male-dominated Hollywood is behind society at large. Notably, Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James plays a male version of the doting "don't you hurt my friend" bestie that's stereotypically a woman, and Tilda Swinton plays a fantastically heartless boss. (Both are brilliant, by the way.)

Schumer and Hader are among the funniest people alive and have great chemistry, so that's a hit. Some of the signature Judd Apatow-riffing/improv falls a little flat, but there's an unexpectedly heartfelt subplot surrounding Amy's relationship with her aging father and straight-laced sister (Brie Larson).

I suppose they called the movie "Trainwreck" because "Smart, Heartfelt Comedy That's Progressive About Sex and Still Funny" didn't fit on the poster. You should see this.


Opens Thursday

3 1/2 stars out of 4