When Amy was 9, her parents got divorced. Her father explained why by pointing to Amy’s sister’s favorite doll.
“What if I told you that that was the only doll you could ever play with for the rest of your life?” he said. What’s wrong with other dolls? He asked. I like other dolls! Everyone likes other dolls!
And then he told his young daughters to repeat after him: “Monogamy is not realistic. Again! Monogamy is not realistic. Monoga—”
Amy learned this lesson well. Sure, she’s had a steady guy or two, but that never kept her from hooking up with a bevy of unsteadies whenever the mood struck. I mean, she’s got to have something to do when she’s not drinking and smoking pot, right?
Amy’s job? Writing for a salacious men’s magazine called Snuff. The articles are about as tawdry as Amy’s personal life (albeit more sexist). But it’s only fair to say that not everything between the mag’s sleazy covers is about sex tips or ugly celebrity babies: It features the occasional serious profile, too. And Aaron Connor—a prestigious knee surgeon whose patient list looks like a professional mix-and-match all-star roster—fits the bill for one of those.
Being the confirmed sports-hater she is, Amy abhors the idea of having to write such a profile—much as a Plugged In movie reviewer might dread writing a review of an R-rated Amy Schumer comedy. But editors can be stubborn sorts, and Amy’s boss—wanting a little edge to the profile—naturally gives her the assignment. Nothing spices up an article like a little abject hatred.
Amy, angling for a promotion, has little choice but to accept. But when she meets this Aaron guy, she discovers he ain’t half bad. In fact, she decides to sleep with him after their first day together.
Well, not that that’s a particularly high bar—especially after Amy’s thrown back a few at the bar. But then she decides to stay over. And that breaks one of her primary rules for detached acts of promiscuity.
Maybe she’ll find out there’s something to this monogamy thing after all.
Though Amy soon discovers that being in a committed relationship is, in some ways, harder than sleeping around, she also figures out it’s worth the extra effort and discomfort. In the end, she reforms her ways, kicks some bad habits and pulls out all the stops to make sure Aaron knows that she wants to be his one and only.
And it’s nice to see that both Aaron and Amy get some love and support from the other people in their lives, too. Amy’s main bulwark is her younger sister, Kim. Because even though Kim seems to embody everything Amy fears and loathes (she’s a wife, a mother, a suburbanite), she finally admits that “it’s just because I don’t think I can have that.” They bicker and fight but ultimately love each other deeply. Amy’s prickly father, Gordon, also offers support in his own deeply problematic way. When he dies, his passing crushes Amy. At his funeral, she says Gordon was a terrible human being in some ways, but that he was also the greatest dad imaginable. “He always made me feel loved and important,” she said.
Aaron doesn’t have family to lean on, so he relies on help from his best friend, LeBron James. The two play basketball together (hilariously), and at one point LeBron sits down with Amy to make sure she’s really committed to his main man. “Don’t hurt him,” he says to her.
A stray joke about church, and comments about karma and an exorcist.
Amy, as mentioned, gets around. Audiences see her with several men, most of whom are naked. (We see bare backsides and a towel draped over a penis.) She engages in obvious sex acts, with scenes including movement and moans and orgasms. An S&M-tinged encounter has her socking a guy in the eye. (A guy who turns out to be just 16.)
Dirty talk accompanies some of the sex. And some of that includes homosexually themed remarks, with references to oral and anal sex. Amy admits to having sex with women at least three times. We hear about condoms, sex tapes, three-way sex, birth control and Planned Parenthood. Snuff story ideas involve masturbation (sometimes in public places, sometimes related to violence), the merits or demerits of women’s bodies, the taste of sexual body fluids, etc. We see Amy’s underwear around her ankles in the bathroom. She and other women do some dances wearing cheerleader costumes.
One small positive: When Amy tells Aaron that he can sleep with other girls, too, saying, “It’s like every guy’s dream,” he responds, “It’s not this guy’s dream.”
Aaron operates on someone’s knee in a comically grotesque surgery. We see blood spray in somebody’s face from a pulled-out IV. Gordon sustains a terrifically bloody gash on his forehead. Aaron stitches it up (in a graphic scene). Somebody commits suicide with pain pills.
More than 50 f-words and 25 s-words. Also: “a–,” “b–ch” and “d–n.” There’s lots and lots of coarse-to-obscene slang for various body parts (including “d–k,” “p—y” and “t-ts”). God’s name is misused at least 20 times (once or twice with “d–n”), and Jesus’ name is abused twice.
As her father was before her, Amy is drunk for many of her salacious escapades, her speech slurred. Four drinks, we find out, is “hardly drinking” for her. And she practically forces her sister to drink champagne with her during lunch (until she learns that Kim is pregnant). Amy smokes marijuana, too (something that annoys Aaron). When she finally cleans herself up, she gives her many liquor bottles, along with her drug stash, to a homeless man. There’s talk of cocaine and Viagra. Ancillary characters smoke cigarettes.
We see Amy vomit. Amy’s father is a racist jerk. And remarks by others suggest racial insensitivity for comic effect. Amy jokes about a tampon.
Amy Schumer is comedy’s new rising star, earning critical accolades for her wit, social commentary and sometimes scathing brand of feminism. And so for her first starring role in a big screen yukfest, she joins forces with another comedic icon, director Judd Apatow—known for The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up.
The result is … well, let’s just say there’s some truth to the title.
Trainwreck is not all bad, mind you. You can’t deny the comedic talent both in front of and behind the camera. And all of Schumer’s outrageous behavior points to a very sweet endgame—one that even feels the slightest bit old-fashioned. Monogamy is cool? Who’dathunkit?
But man, there’s a lot the moviegoer has to travel through to get to that curiously uplifting endpoint. The sex, the drugs, the language … it’s all pretty terrible.
Trainwreck, at least in terms of content, is just that—a careening, cataclysmic disaster loaded with stuff that no one should really ever want to see but, once there, is hard to turn away from. Sure, you can find some positives here, just as we can find inspiring stories in the midst of real-life disasters. But that doesn’t keep you from wishing the disaster never happened in the first place.
Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.