'Trainwreck' has gross-outs but is actually almost sweet

'Trainwreck' stars Amy Schumer as a commitment-phobe who falls for a genially innocent sports surgeon (Bill Hader).

Mary Cybulski/Universal Pictures/AP
'Trainwreck' stars Amy Schumer (l.) and Brie Larson (r.).

“Trainwreck” is the latest entry in the Women Behaving Badly sweepstakes, and I liked it better than “Spy,” which is not really saying that much. Amy Schumer, familiar from her TV show and stand-up routines, specializes in sexually-charged gross-out humor of the sort that is usually supplied in by male slobbolas in the movies. It’s refreshing, in very small doses, to see the tables turned. 

In “Trainwreck,” she plays Amy, whose father (Colin Quinn), heading for a divorce, told her when she was a girl that “monogamy isn’t realistic.” She believed him. And so unlike her older sister Kim (Brie Larson), who is happily married, Amy’s love life is essentially a string of casual hookups – until, that is, this commitment-phobe falls for Aaron (Bill Hader), a sports surgeon she interviews for a profile at the snarky magazine, S’NUFF, where she works. Aaron, despite a clientele including LeBron James (in a very funny cameo), is a genial innocent who keeps steering Amy, whom he adores, away from her worst instincts.

The surprise of “Trainwreck” is that, gross-outs aside, it’s really rather tame, almost sweet. Judd Apatow directed, from a script by Schumer, and, contrary to public perception, he makes some of the most straitlaced movies around. He’s a family values guy, high on marriage and kids and true love. Schumer, as a writer for the movies at least, is pretty old-fashioned, too. As a performer, she has her moments, but she has the same odd defect as several other popular women comics who go into the movies – I’m thinking of Tina Fey and Kristin Wiig in particular. When they are not being sly and knockabout, when they are attempting to play “real” people in conventional situations, they become blank-faced and dull. The overlong “Trainwreck” would have been better if it had derailed more often. Grade: C+ (Rated R for strong sexual content, nudity, language and some drug use.)

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