In theaters Friday, July 17
3 stars (out of 4 stars)
Amy Schumer, the stand-up comic and brains behind Inside Amy Schumer, is one of the most fearless talents in the business.
Amy Schumer, the actress and first-time screenwriter…Well, she has some room to grow.
But this sexy and wickedly funny film sure is one fantastic jumping-off point.
Start with deleting every unnaturally gorgeous and glamorous NYC rom-com heroine in your mental database. Our leading lady, named Amy of course, is a cynical men’s magazine writer and unapologetic bad girl. She drinks, smokes weed, and nonchalantly instructs guys what to do in the sack. She isn’t at all self-conscious about her body. She wakes up in a guy’s bed and then becomes disgusted upon realizing that she’s in Staten Island. Amen, girlfriend.
Amy also isn’t walking through life as if it’s one big dress rehearsal until the man of her dreams gets down on one knee with a diamond ring. As a young girl, she and her older sister were taught by their dad (Colin Quinn) that “monogamy is bad.” So she moves briskly from guy to guy. And the next morning at work, she delivers juicy recaps to her coworker (Vanessa Bayer). Of course, like all pop culture-savvy working women, the two also take time to weigh which Johnny Depp movie character is most eff-able. (Edward Scissorhands would give Amy a cool haircut!)
Amy’s credo begins to change after she’s assigned to interview an A-list sports doctor named Aaron (Bill Hader, love love love). Aaron isn’t just the surgeon to the stars; he’s an all-around good guy. Unassuming and caring, he even takes care of her now-ailing dad at a nursing home. Easy to see why the wall around her heart would crack. There’s something about Amy that proves irresistible to Aaron as well. Maybe it’s the way she goofs off while she walks on a treadmill. More likely he’s attracted to her brazen confidence: After a night of drinking, she invites herself to his apartment and makes the first move. This just doesn’t happen in Drew Barrymore flicks.
Indeed, Schumer has the smarts to skewer all the glossy boy-meets-girl movie clichés we’ve been accustomed to seeing for decades. How refreshing that Amy and Aaron’s courtship montage features her admitting via voice-over that the two kissed on a rock in Central Park once occupied by a homeless person’s poop. She also gets the icks pointing out that the two smooched on the subway. She’s rolling her eyes along with us, which makes her all the more relatable.
The problem is that over the course of the film, Amy devolves from endearingly snarky to flat-out mean. It’s rude enough that she snaps at him after he says “I love you” for the first time. But she becomes the girlfriend from hell. During an important luncheon in his honor for his commitment to Doctors Without Borders, she has the gall to answer her phone, walk out mid-speech, and then smoke weed in the next room. Even when he confronts her and expresses his disappointment, she snipes that he’s still clutching the award as if he’s Anne Hathaway on Oscar night. Nice way to treat a guy who was just saluted for his charity work. Later, she whines to him all night, knowing full well that he must scrub in for a big surgery on an NBA star first thing in the morning.
Perhaps it’s a credit to Hader’s heartfelt acting that at this point, you’re almost rooting for his sweet character to dump her forever and start trolling Tinder. Instead, his famous pals stage an intervention and ask him to be more mindful of Amy’s needs and to cut her some slack. It’s one of several comedy sketch-like scenes that fall flat and add filler to a hefty two-hour film. (Though it is a treat to see LeBron James’ softer side.)
Let’s get real: If a man behaved like Amy, her friends would beg her to move on. It’s not more adorable or easier to sympathize just because the female is the jerk here. Certainly Schumer and director Judd Apatow had the best intentions for leaving out the sugar and bringing extra spice, but they take it too far. Ironically, they turn to a surefire — albeit winning — rom-com staple to ensure their happy ending.
For Schumer’s next time out, here’s hoping she keeps the story on track.
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