How 'Trainwreck' perfectly flipped the script on romantic comedies
There’s no denying that Amy Schumer is one of the strongest comedic voices out there right now, male OR female. And with Trainwreck, she’s just upped the ante. Yes, Schumer’s new movie is phenomenally clever and relatable. But it’s also genre-defying—and that’s a good thing. In fact, Trainwreck flips your typical boy-meets-girl story on it’s head. (Spoilers ahead!)
Unlike your usual romantic comedy opening, we don’t meet Schumer’s “Amy” as she’s getting dumped, fired, or crying into a gallon of ice cream. Instead we meet her living it up with walks and even ferry rides of no shame (a hilarious nod to Working Girl).
As she puts it: “I’m just a modern chick who does what she wants. Last week, it was this guy.”
To her point, this movie is about a MODERN woman. And in the land of antiquated rom-coms, that means a total role reversal, with Schumer embodying some of the tropes traditionally reserved for male leads. She’s the one with commitment issues, she’s the one enjoying her single life, she’s even the one making grand romantic gestures (which I won’t spoil for you) when she does fall hard.
Most of the time the female lead in rom coms fit into a category that isn’t realistic or attainable. She’s humorously type A (The Wedding Planner), manipulative (How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days), or easily manipulated (She’s All That).
With Trainwreck, Amy is none of these things. She’s the opposite of type A (ex: she often escapes dates to smoke a joint). And instead of manipulating or being manipulated by her love interest, she pushes him away (again, her life is pretty awesome). Basically, she’s a real person with real flaws and really awesome facets.
“Before you judge you should know I’m doing fine. My friends are awesome, my apartment’s sick and I have a great job at a men’s magazine,” she explains to the audience. The only thing familiar about this statement is that she works at a magazine (hello, Never Been Kissed, The Devil Wears Prada and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days). But instead of her job being a cliché, it’s a parody: her boss is over-the-top in her demands and the magazine is over-the-top in its sex-driven coverage.
But aside from the career satire, Trainwreck is surprisingly real. If you’ve dated, had a love hate relationship with your job, have a family or ever had to deal with loss, you can relate to this movie. It isn’t just about the girl getting the guy, it’s a story with heart about the people who shape you, and the struggle to define yourself while heeding the advice of those you love.
In the film, we see Amy grapple with her father’s commitment issues and her sister’s domestic bliss. And we see Amy emerge as a person both impacted and conflicted by their seemingly opposite influences. And that’s OK. She’s strong, she’s complex, she’s imperfect and she’s lovable for reasons that don’t involve those typical cinematic exaggerations of femininity.
After seeing the film I ran into some guy friends who were on the fence about seeing it. “It’s just about girl stuff,” one of them said. Wrong. It’s about human stuff, as any good rom-com should be.