Whether she’s face-planting on the red carpet, stealing Kanye and Kim’s thunder, or ripping the sexist culture of Hollywood to pieces with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tina Fey and Patricia Arquette on her magnificently viral-ready show Inside Amy Schumer, the comedienne-turned-film-star is the undeniable woman of the moment.
Currently in Australia promoting Trainwreck, directed by good buddy Judd Apatow and penned by Schumer herself, when she sneakily announced a one-off stand-up gig at Melbourne’s Hamer Hall it brought down both the internet and the phone system, with tickets gone within the hour.
Arriving at the Melbourne premiere of Trainwreck in an electric blue dress, Schumer looked a knockout, and she says the experience of working with Apatow and Saturday Night Live alumni Bill Hader was a creative gift, rather than a case of too many comics spoil the broth.
“We’re a great team and we wound up collaborating pretty well together,” Schumer says. “We’re just normal people; sometimes we’re funny, sometimes we’re tired and snotty, but it was a dream team as far as I’m concerned.”
With Apatow on director duties, did Schumer get precious about the script?
“Pretty precious,” she laughs. “There’s some stuff I fought for, but Judd was so cool about understanding how important the story was for me and letting me fall on my sword for the things I really wanted. Any improvising only improved what ended up on film.”
Schumer pops up all over the internet these days, so how does she deal with the troll contingent?
“I don’t read it and I don’t care!”
Hader, jet-lagged in a dusky blue suit, said he was glad Schumer takes on the musical number this time, after lip-synching to Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us in last year’s The Skeleton Twins with Kristen Wiig.
“I didn’t see it until they day they did it,” he says. “They’d been rehearsing for months, so you see me see it for the first time.”
Apatow is a best mate so it was a dream job for Hader.
“Judd is such a good friend, and has been for 10 years, so I felt very lucky – it’s the biggest part I’ve had in a studio movie and to have a good friend of mine doing it was so awesome,” he says.
He relished working with Schumer and is glad to see so many stand-up comedians breaking through on the big screen.
“If you go to the Comedy Cellar in New York, basically every comedian who goes up on stage there is in the movie. It’s very sweet of Amy to put them in it.”
Trainwreck stars Schumer as a lightly fictionalised version of her potty-mouthed and outrageously funny self, also called Amy, an aspiring magazine journalist writing snarky click bait – one feature is titled ‘Is he gay or is she just boring?’
Maniacal boss Dianna, an almost unrecognisable but ever-awesome Tilda Swinton working the blonde bangs, Fanta tan and a whole tone of attitude a la Meryl Streep in Devil Wears Prada.
An opening flashback sees Colin Quinn as Amy’s philandering father explaining to his two daughters in a hilariously inappropriate metaphor, “Do you only want to play with one doll?” that ends with the repeated assertion, “Monogamy isn’t realistic”.
Amy takes this life lesson to heart, sneaking home (either will do) or into back alleys with a procession of wildly varying blokes. She’s not too keen on the advances of her doting beefcake boyfriend Steven, played by humungous WWE star John Cena, and his strangely men-focused fantasies.
When Dianna, in a ‘promote or die’ challenge, slings a sports medicine-related snoozefest feature onto Amy to test her ability to bounce out of a curve ball, she meets nice but a bit dull Aaron, played by Hader, mostly playing it straight here. Despite Amy’s best intentions, they’re soon falling awkwardly over very high heels in love.
What makes Trainwreck stand out from the rom-com crowd is Schumer’s refusal to play nice. Her super-sharp wit takes crack shots at racial and homophobic jokes, also lampooning unrealistic expectations of women and their sexual history. Her confronting script doesn’t expect we’ll totally love this heavy-drinking and dope-smoking playgirl, particularly when she treats her adorable sister, played by an effervescent Brie Larson, meanly.
The film wisely packs a fantastic ensemble, with Swinton stealing every scene but given a run for her comic-timing money by towering basketball superstar LeBron James as a Downton Abbey-obsessed version of himself who’s not fond of opening his wallet despite his massive fortune.
Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe also excels in a crackingly satirical black-and-white Brooklyn hipster movie within the movie, The Dogwalker. There’s even a sly dig at Woody Allen and his love of loved-up montages, complete with Schumer voiceover, boosting Trainwreck’s welcome to New York feel.
By the time the whizz-bang finale whoops around, totally nailing it, you’ll be rooting to see what Schumer does next.