Nothing like an true-blue New Yorker to personify a comedy of dysfunction in the Big Apple.
In her feature-film starring debut, stand-up comedian, writer, producer and actress Amy Schumer – as herself – effortlessly delivers the punches in “Trainwreck”, like a locomotive flying off its rails, blending confessional comedy, uproarious observation and gender politics.
Anyway, no filmmaker can chronicle the messy human experience with the eye and ear of a comedic cultural anthropologist like Judd Apatow, who already has Knocked Up and The 40-Year-Old Virgin under his directorial belt.
Since she was a little girl, Amy’s (Amy Schumer) rascal dad (Colin Quinn) drummed into her head that monogamy isn’t realistic. So she grew up as a bed-hopping magazine writer living her life without apologies.
Vehemently, she shunned romantic commitment until she fell for the subject of her newest article, a sports doctor named Aaron Conners (Bill Hader).
NBA superstar Lebron James depicted King James himself, Aaron’s best friend and unlikely source of romantic inspiration.
Interestingly, Amy, the film’s star was a big fan of her director even before they met. In the same manner, even before they eyeballed each other, Judd was laughing over her dark humor – that’s why he sought her out.
While driving to work and listening to a radio show one day, Judd heard Amy being interviewed.
She discussed her serial relationships, sex life, family and her father’s battle with multiple sclerosis. He found her so fascinating, he couldn’t leave his car until she finished talking.
“She was hilarious but was being very candid about relationships,” he recalled. “I thought this was someone who would be great starring in a movie and telling her story. Amy’s very honest and vulnerable, and that’s my favorite type of comedy. It’s very human.”
When Judd asked to meet Amy, “I couldn’t sleep the night before,” Amy confessed. “I was too excited to meet Judd because Knocked Up changed my life.”
Her first idea for a script was a high-concept comedy but Judd wanted her to write something more personal.
“We started talking about her life, her relationships and what she thought was holding her back from having more successful ones. We realized that’s what the movie should be all about.”
It was Judd’s first time to lens a motion picture he hadn’t authored. “I’ve directed TV that I didn’t write, but this just seemed right.” And he was having so much fun.
Although she was quite comfortable in the world of stand-up—having slayed televised audiences and her fellow comics at a roast on Comedy Central— Amy as a first-time screenwriter admitted that having a director of Judd’s caliber agree to lens her first film was humbling.
“I didn’t know that Judd was going to direct it until late in the game,” she disclosed. “When I let it in that this was really happening, I cried like a one-year-old.”
Amy gave herself permission to go very personal with her story and wove in elements from her own past struggles with familial and romantic relationships, as well as her internal battles growing up.
Naturally, her film avatar would take every one of the real Amy’s own experiences to the extreme. Her script told the tale of a young professional in Manhattan with a great job, a nice apartment and a guy she’s seeing who is into her more than she is into him.
Trainwreck’s Amy lives the life of a modern woman with a social life governed by two simple rules for a fun night out: Don’t give them your phone number and never, ever sleep over.
Admittedly not a model of moral integrity, straight-talking Amy considers herself a sexual girl who does what she wants, even if it means ending up doing the walk of shame among early morning commuters in the Staten Island ferry.
“I would say she thinks she’s happy, she thinks she’s fine and nothing’s wrong,” the star explained. “From the outside we know this is really self-destructive, and this girl’s not okay. But she doesn’t know that.”
Judd found this protagonist a fascinating one to explore in comedy. “She’s a person who maintains distance from people by having a lot of relationships and cheating on people and drinking and smoking pot. She’s avoiding intimacy by having a lot of contact with a lot of people.”
As does the real Amy, Trainwreck’s Amy has a younger, married sister named Kim. “Amy and Kim are as close as sisters can be but have just wound up on different paths. Kim is married, starting a family and lives in the suburbs. She is throwing herself into that life, and Amy’s sprinting in the other direction.”
The story also mirrors Amy’s life in the character of Gordon, the sisters’ father, who is a former wild man and current live wire of his assisted-living facility. He supports Amy’s freewheeling ways and sees in her the freedom he once had and deeply misses.
In Trainwreck, Gordon has recently moved into a nursing home because he, as does Amy’s real-life father, suffers from multiple sclerosis.
When not caring for a father with a debilitating disease or carousing out on the town, Amy finds success at work writing puff pieces for the racy and snarky S’Nuff magazine. Still, she strives for more fulfilling assignments that would test her acumen as a serious journalist.
Amy also hopes to please her demanding boss, who suggests that if the young writer plays her cards right, a better-paying job as executive editor might just be hers.
Still, our anti-heroine is less than thrilled when she’s assigned to write a feature story about an up-and-coming sports doctor named Aaron Conners, who’s about to perform an innovative knee surgery on famed former New York Knicks star.
It will be a better article if she writes some dirt about athletes and their lives. Unfortunately for Amy, she falls in love with her subject.
Unlike the bar-hopping, frequently pot-smoking Amy, the charming-yet-nerdy sports doctor lives a rigidly structured life, one without much experience with the opposite sex.
“Aaron is a brilliant surgeon who probably hasn’t had a real relationship, maybe ever,” Judd says. “All we know is that six years ago he dated someone for five weeks.”
The juxtaposition of the two characters would prove fertile ground for fantastic banter and an unexpected courtship.
After all is said and done, Trainwreck assumed a new meaning for Amy and it’s one she’ll take with her the rest of her career.
“If you say, ‘Yes!’ to having Judd Apatow reveal all the details of your life,” she dryly concludes. “You might be a Trainwreck.”
CAST OF CHARACTERS:
Universal Pictures presents an Apatow production of a Judd Apatow film: Trainwreck, starring Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, Brie Larson, Colin Quinn, John Cena with Tilda Swinton and LeBron James. The film’s music is by Jon Brion, and its music supervisors are Manish Raval, Tom Wolfe. Trainwreck’s costume designer is Leesa Evans, and it is edited by William Kerr, ACE, Paul Zucker. The comedy’s production designer is Kevin Thompson, and its director of photography is Jody Lee Lipes. The executive producer is David Householter, and the film is produced by Judd Apatow, p.g.a., Barry Mendel, p.g.a. Trainwreck is written by Amy Schumer, and it is directed by Judd Apatow.
(Photos care of “United International Pictures”)
TRAINWRECK will be shown exclusively at Ayala Malls Cinemas nationwide starting this Wednesday, August 26, 2015.