That little gender swap caused a bit of a commotion among stupid people, with columnists like garbage person Jeff Wells objecting to the film’s premise because he didn’t find Schumer attractive enough. She says she wasn’t bothered personally by his comments (“Someone saying that I’m physically disgusting doesn’t change my heart rate or the course of my day at all. I truly, from the bottom of my heart, do not give a shit about that”). In fact, she sees the good in it, “because people were angry with him for saying that stuff about me, and it let people know, We’re OK with women who aren’t Victoria’s Secret models. We can actually fathom that somebody could stomach fucking her.”
A stupid little tempest like that one accentuates how, even casually, Schumer is put in the position of being a feminist (even when that’s not what the work’s explicitly about), and unlike some of our dimmer celebrities, she embraces it. “I wanna get it tattooed on my clit,” she announces, triumphantly. “I think people don’t know what the word feminism means.”
“What does the word feminism mean?” asks interviewer Danielle Nussbaum. And Schumer replies, without missing a beat, “Well, I’m one of those people… No, social and political equality for women. I think if you’re against that, you’re crazy, you’re a crazy person.”
Schumer’s carved out a unique voice on- and off-stage; it’s invigorating to see it on the screen, crafting a portrait of a complicated protagonist who likes to pretend she’s got it all figured out, and is right on the verge of falling apart. It’s a wonderful performance, with Schumer (who revealed Monday afternoon that she’s not some moonlighter, but an experienced actress trained in the Meisner Method) handling comic and dramatic beats with equal aplomb.
Trainwreck comes to SXSW labeled as a “work-in-progress,” and though the version of the picture we saw looks pretty close to done, it could indeed use some work. In its current form, director Apatow can’t quite synthesize the comic and dramatic material as smoothly as in earlier efforts; as it is, the movie too often stops one cold, even clunkily, while veering towards the other. (A funeral scene does both, and well, indicating that it can be done here.) It’s another in a long line of movies where it’s better to just tell us our protagonist is a good writer than to actually try to prove it; the voice-over of her big article is so bad, it throws off the credibility of the narrative. (Call it Never Been Kissed Syndrome). LeBron James ends up being the picture’s secret comic weapon — a pal of Hader’s doctor character, he’s always offering up totally useless analogies and Cleveland boosterism, while they get a good running gag out of him being a cheapskate (figuring out who owes what on a lunch check, he scolds, “I don’t know how long this is gonna last!”). But the film is so loaded with celebrity cameos that famous-face fatigue sets in by the end.
Yet all that stuff is fixable, and ultimately of minor importance. Trainwreck is a welcome movie both in theory (summer studio comedy written by and starring a tough, uncompromising female artist) and in practice (it’s just funny as hell). And Schumer frankly seems too raw to be “handled,” or to go Hollywood anytime soon; when Nussbaum asked if Trainwreck was the original title, Schumer replied, “It was always Trainwreck. It was gonna be Trainwreck or Cum Dumpster…” When the laughter died, she continued, “My publicist had to fly out early, so that’s her fault, that I just said that…”
Trainwreck is out in July.