A dad hilariously tries to convey to his two young daughters, perched on the hood of the family car, how it would be to have to play with only one doll for the rest of their lives—just one!
They agree that would be dreadful! And thus disingenuous dad bamboozles darling daughters into having an inkling of why he’s divorcing mommy. “Repeat after me: monogamy isn’t realistic!”
That’s Colin Quinn’s character, in the Judd Apatow-helmed, Amy Schumer-penned, “Trainwreck.” It’s a comedy tour-de-force, as well as a kitchen-sink acting-showcase gauntlet, thrown down by talent-laden TV sketch-show star Schumer, in her big screen debut.
But as much we’re happy see Judd Apatow directing more funniness, and immediately look forward to more Amy Schumer (we predict she and Melissa McCarthy will play sisters), even more so do we immediately want to see more LeBron James. More LeBron! The basket-balling-est individual of all time reveals himself to be hilarious.
Just Like Dad
All grown up now, Amy Townsend (Schumer) has become a self-centered, career-focused, staff writer at a high-gloss, low-class men’s magazine, where editorial staff sit around competitively pitching gross topics and headlines, and the barracuda-boss (an excellent, unrecognizable sprayed-on-tan-and-aqua-eyeshadow’d Tilda Swinton) champions the low and the lurid.
In her private life, Amy’s found that she, like her alcoholic dad, drinks too much, cannot be happy playing with just one (adult human) Ken-doll, or abusing just one substance. It’s not rated “R” for nothing.
Wait, she does sort of like one boyfriend more than the rest, hilariously played by WWF wrestler John Cena. He’s a steroidal beefcake a few too many screws short of a workbench to be able to understand how every macho phrase out of his mouth is disturbingly effeminate.
So, in time-honored Manhattan form, by staying hyper-focused on her journalism career, Amy blithely traverses the minefield of love—until boss-barracuda assigns her an interview.
Sport-hating Amy is slated to profile celebrity sports-medicine doctor Aaron Conners (Bill Hader, proving he’s a leading man in the Steve Carell category), whose patients include NBA stars LeBron James and Amar’e Stoudemire.
During their initial meeting in his office, she opens mouth/inserts foot by pretending she likes sports, and dissing men who wear sports jerseys (missing the one in the display-case right behind her).
LeBron James as himself pops in for a quick hello. She doesn’t know who he is, and the good doctor calls her on the fact that, in reality, she knows absolutely nothing about sports, and knows no black people.
Quickly establishing chemistry, they proceed to the relationship check-out counter with alacrity, where things naturally get more complicated. And funny. Hers is the classic, everything’s-black-and-white, we’re-fighting-so-we-must-be-breaking-up, addictive personality take on things, while Doctor Conner’s is a mature, “No, we’re-just-having-a-fight” approach.
Amy’s little sister (Brie Larson) is happily married to Tom (Mike Birbiglia from Schumer’s TV show) and isn’t impressed with Amy’s fast-lane life. Amy, in turn, is grossed out by holy matrimony, offspring, and brow-beaten, safe-y-safe, goofball beta-males in daddy jeans.
Meanwhile, the cost of old-codger dad’s assisted-living facilities is fast driving yet another wedge between the sisters.
With Schumer writing and acting, and Apatow directing, “Trainwreck” moves like a 1973 championship Knicks game with Earl Monroe throwing behind-the-back passes to Walt Frazier (that needed a New York Knicks simile, since Knick player Stoudamire, Knick announcer Marv Albert, and the Knicks City Dancers are all featured).
Actually with James, Stoudemire, Cena, former tennis star Chris Evert, Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo—Trainwreck’s a sports-world cornucopia.
In addition to Schumer-Apatow chemistry and teamwork, there’s Schumer-Hader chemistry; there’s nothing Schumer’s abundance of comedic talent can throw at SNL comedy-vet Hader, that he can’t handle.
Hader-James chemistry! LeBron James, playing a version of himself as a Downtown Abbey-loving, skinflint-restaurant-check-debating, and embarrassingly loud-mouthed romance-confidante buddy of Doctor Conner—is a force of nature and hysterical scene-stealer.
James’ and Hader’s scenes are top notch, and it’s no surprise when you think about it—James grew up on camera, and there’s no better preparation for the full-on comedy arsenal—from clown to straight-man—than surviving the NBA trash-talk shark-tank. No wonder he can more than hold his own with a world-class sketch-comedy pro like Hader. And just like that: LeBron’s got a new career.
Movies and storytelling are all about conflict resolution and character-arc. We want to see people change. We see Amy go from being a tough chick to accepting vulnerability, and the realizing that in vulnerability and flexibility, exists a new kind of strength.
“Trainwreck’s” the first of Judd Apatow’s five features to feature a female story, which may come in part because he’s received criticism for being so male-centric.
Part of what Schumer’s got going for her, similar to the likes of Lena Dunham and Zosia Mamet, is that while they’re not classic beauties, they exude charisma through powerful comedic chops, earthy forthrightness, and a certain sexy je ne sais quoi.
Apatow’s last few film forays were starting to get a little lackluster in the loafers. This Schumer-shoe-shine has him looking sharp again. Next up, to solidify his position as comedy slam-dunk king—he should make the whole movie about King James.
Director: Judd Apatow
Starring: Amy Schumer, Colin Quinn, Bill Hader, Brie Larson, Tilda Swinton, John Cena, Dave Attell, LeBron James, Daniel Radcliffe, Marisa Tomei
Running Time: 2 hours, 5 minutes
Release Date: July 17
3.5 stars out of 5