Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Amy Schumer + Trainwreck

I mourn the death of the classic chick flick. Yes, plenty of them were garbage but I have pretty low-brow cinematic taste. I enjoy a quiet, beautiful indie film now and again but sometimes I just want to be entertained and a decent script with a female lead and a happy ending is my idea of a good time.

I resent Hollywood's current disinclination to cater for mass female audiences. Obviously women can enjoy Mad Max and superhero films and big, dumb action franchises but we are not the primary audience. It's probably true that women are more likely to accompany their (heterosexual) partners to BOY films than men are to tolerate GIRL films but I still think Hollywood should be trying to woo my dollar. I mean, I'm fickle and if Sleepless in Seattle came out tomorrow I would probably turn my nose up at such sentimental pandering but I still want them to at least pretend to value my preferences.

The closest thing you really get to a rom-com these days is a female-lead slash-com. It's a clumsy construction but I would roughly categorise Bridesmaids as a dram-com, The Heat as a cop-com and Pitch Perfect as a glee-com? I don't know, that doesn't really work. They're all comedies targeted at women, let's leave it there. And I like those films. I celebrate the fact that women are being funny in mid-budget films and that we are embracing gross-out humour and that all of the aforementioned films prioritise female friendships. I love female friendships! They're the best! But sometimes I yearn for the easy endorphin hit of romantic fulfilment and that is hard to find on film these days.


I caught a pre-screening of Amy Schumer's upcoming film Trainwreck last week and although it isn't at all schlocky it did satisfy a lot of my rom-com urges. I'm probably being overly optimistic but it felt like it could be a successful new model for contemporary romantic comedies if we accept that the "chick flick" as it existed into the mid '00s is dead forever. There is comedy and there is romance and it feels very modern.

Amy, the film's protagonist, is a fully conceived character. She has a career and a family and a very active social/sexual life. She isn't looking for a relationship but she meets Bill Hader's character (LOVE do not doubt Hader's potential as a romantic lead - he is charming and delightful and he has the biggest, brownest eyes) and they like each other and that is important. I love Chris O'Dowd and I have a soft spot for Sklyar Astin but they are the least important aspects of their respective films. Which is fine. But the relationship is not a sub-plot in Trainwreck and that is really nice too.

Also, it was kind of relaxing to take a break from body horror jokes for a while. Bridesmaids was on TV over the weekend and while the food poisoning scene is masterful you only really need to see it once and I never needed the vomiting in Pitch Perfect at all. Also, also, Amy Schumer is a perfectly attractive, slim-normal, human-looking person and I loved that there were no jokes at the expense of her body or appearance. She is neither very beautiful nor very thin but her sexuality isn't ridiculed.

Also, also, also, TILDA SWINTON. Spot her in the trailer. She is a perfect human being and I love her.

Prior to this film, I hadn't really bonded with Amy Schumer. I appreciated the political drive of her most recent season of Inside Amy Schumer but I don't like sketch comedy. I will defend to the death a woman's right to be lewd and sexually aggressive and drunk, as often per her public persona, but it isn't a mode of being/comedy that interests me. However, I am now fully on board. She wrote and, perhaps, produced Trainwreck and it is funny while maintaining an emotional depth, romantic while maintaining a tough, independent heroine and generally a pleasure.

I liked it. So there you go.

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