Film

Last Judgment

Judd Apatow, Trainwreck, 2015, 35 mm, color, sound, 125 minutes. Amy and Aaron Conners (Amy Schumer and Bill Hader).

TRAINWRECK, a comedy directed by Judd Apatow and written by and starring Amy Schumer, tries to be all things to all people, making strenuous efforts to ensure that long-marginalized special-interest groups—those wholly underserved audiences like sports fans and Billy Joel enthusiasts—don’t feel excluded by a film about a woman’s dating foibles. Fans of the lead’s savagely funny Comedy Central series, Inside Amy Schumer, will find little of what distinguishes that sketch show—its anatomizing of both the pathologies of sexism and the entitlement of certain straight white females—in this wheel-spinning feature. Those viewers who have ached for the late aughts, when Katherine Heigl was the rom-com standard-bearer, however, will likely feel soothed.

“Hey, guys, I’m Amy. Don’t judge me, fuckers,” Schumer demands in voice-over at the beginning of Trainwreck, after her character’s inconsiderate behavior toward her numerous bedmates is established. These laddish practices are the direct result of an incident revealed in the film’s prologue: nine-year-old Amy and her kid sister, Kim, chanting “Monogamy isn’t realistic” at the insistence of their father (Colin Quinn), who’s just told his daughters that he’s divorcing their mom. This dopey cause and effect plays out in the movie’s increasingly moralizing tone. Amy’s defiant and jokily defensive imperative later softens to this earnest, teary declaration: “I know what I am—I’m broken,” a line delivered to her happily married and now pregnant sibling (Brie Larson).

Amy arrives at this diagnosis following a rupture in her relationship with Aaron (Bill Hader), a saintly physician whose specialty is sports medicine and who is honored by Doctors Without Borders. They meet in the course of Amy’s reporting for a vaguely defined feature for her employer, S’nuff magazine; an early story-ideas confab at the glossy stands as Trainwreck’s best scene, filled with the spiky observations that make Schumer’s TV show so vital. “Pitch me hard,” exhorts editor in chief Dianna (Tilda Swinton, slathered in bronzer and blue eye shadow, and funnier here than she’s been in a decade) in her Estuary accent, her staff blurting out possible articles with titles like “You’re Not Gay: She’s Boring” and “Where Are They Now? The Kids Michael Jackson Made Settlements With.”

Those caustic jabs at pop culture soon cede to its glorification. Aaron’s best friend is LeBron James; the basketball superstar plays himself as a Downton Abbey–loving, penny-pinching incurable romantic in three scenes too many. Even more enervating is the screen time devoted to Amar’e Stoudmire and Marv Albert. (There is one great cameo, though: The brilliant downtown-cabaret terrorist Bridget Everett shares a fond XXX memory at Kim’s baby shower.) A shot of Amy journaling at a sidewalk table outside Veselka, part of a montage presaging the inevitable life lessons learned, typifies the dull, banalizing depictions of New York that have dominated romantic comedies set in the city ever since Meg Ryan fake-came at Katz’s Delicatessen.

I’m not sure who’s most responsible for Trainwreck’s ultimate timidity, for the mordant ribaldry evinced in the first half hour or so inexorably oozing into couple-y goo. The film certainly bears Apatow’s trademark blend of raunch and family-first sermonizing: Though Schumer is credited as the sole screenwriter, the director of Knocked Up (2007) and This Is 40 (2012), whom the comedian was especially eager to work with, gave her notes on the script throughout. As we watch a newly repentant Amy clear out her Grand Street apartment of empty liquor bottles and bongs, we realize who her harshest judge is: not the fuckers in the audience but the woman who created her.

Trainwreck opens nationally on Friday, July 17.

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