dir Judd Apatow
scr Amy Schumer
prd Judd Apatow, Barry Mendel
with Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, Brie Larson, Tilda Swinton, Colin Quinn, John Cena, Vanessa Bayer, Mike Birbiglia, Ezra Miller, Evan Brinkman, LeBron James, Amar'e Stoudemire
release US 17.Jul.15; UK 14.Aug.15
15/US Universal 2h05
Settling down: Schumer and Hader

larson swinton miller
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Trainwreck Comic Amy Schumer makes an auspicious big-screen debut with this entertaining comedy, although it feels oddly tame compared to her anarchic TV series. Schumer plays it relatively safe as both writer and actor, working with filmmaker Apatow to create an adult-oriented comedy with rude humour that skates right to the edge but never transgresses it.

Taught by her father (Quinn) that monogamy is unrealistic, Amy (Schumer) enjoys sex without commitment. The one guy (Cena) she sees repeatedly is a muscleheaded narcissist. A writer at S'Nuff men's magazine, Amy is assigned by her dismissive editor Diana (Swinton) to interview Aaron (Hader), a surgeon who specialises in sports injuries. Then after seducing him on autopilot, Amy realises that she actually likes Aaron. This is such a new feeling for her that it throws off her relationship with her sister Kim (Larson), who's expecting a child with her husband Tom (Birbiglia).

Aside from one movingly dark emotional moment, Schumer never strays far from her TV alter ego as the good-time girl who's a bit too frank for polite society. So her character here is hilarious but never very likeable. Instead, we root for Aaron, because Hader's remarkably layered performance gives the film its heart. Larson and Quinn also add some emotional spark, while everyone else is just here to supply laughs.

As a director, Apatow gets out of the way and lets the cast do the job. Like a sit-com, the film is packed with wacky characters saying amusing things while a fairly obvious plot gurgles along in the background. As a result, side characters steal most of the scenes, including Daniel Radcliffe and Marisa Tomei in New York indie film within the film, and real-life athletes like James and Stoudemire in extended roles as goofy versions of themselves.

Schumer is happy to talk dirty, but as an actress hedges her bets with a smirk (see also: remaining fully clothed during sex scenes). On TV this works, but on film it feels superficially smutty, never hitting the nerve. So it's conspicuous when the script sidesteps any comment on ripe themes like the meaning of monogamy or societal pressures on women. And ultimately, Schumer throws in the towel, embracing a cliched romantic-comedy structure. It may play out ironically, but the corny finale leaves the film just as irrelevant as any other rom-com out there. Which isn't something we expected from Schumer or Apatow.

cert 15 themes, language, sexuality 28.Jul.15

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