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In Trainwreck, the lead character, Amy (Amy Schumer) insists she’s happy with her life of one night stands and a job writing for an exploitative magazine (called S’nuff) that pays for her fantastic New York City apartment and booze and marijuana habits. But the movie becomes a declaration that a satisfying life requires her to give up the alcohol and drugs and commit to one man.
This is the genius and frustration of Judd Apatow comedies: His themes are conventional, but his jokes are all rated R. (Trainwreck is rated R for strong sexual content, nudity, bad language, and some drug use. All are pervasive.) From Knocked Up to The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Apatow’s characters always want something more than the “just sex” they originally aspire to. Trainwreck is crude and prurient, but the narrative arc of the movie convinces Amy that monogamy is worthwhile.
This formula comes straight from the 1960s, when the so-called “sex comedies” relied on implicit rather than explicit sexuality and it was usually Doris Day convincing Rock Hudson to mend his ways. Schumer’s comedic satire often focuses on the female sexual experience, and Trainwreck, which she wrote, is a perfect showcase.
It assumes sex is obligatory to romance. And yet Amy’s romance with Aaron (Bill Hader) succeeds despite the casual sex, not because of it. Amy eventually confesses to her sister Kim (Brie Larson) that she makes fun of her life as a traditional suburban mother because it scares her. Amy gives up the lifestyle that once would have been considered unconventional in exchange for a life and love that take a more traditional form.
So while Trainwreck might portray the lifestyle and vices our modern culture rigorously defends as normal, it is also an argument that something better exists.
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