I’m not typically a fan of romantic comedies – the plots are too saccharine and formulaic, the resolutions too blindingly optimistic, the emphasis on finding a man to complete you too vomit-inducing. But, Amy Schumer is hardly the typical romantic comedy heroine, so I was curious to give Trainwreck (2015) a try.
In some respects, Trainwreck succeeds in distancing itself from the sappy romantic comedies we’re used to seeing. Amy (whose character is named after herself) is the brash, sex-loving, no-filter, take-me-as-you-see-me, bad broad that has appealed to so many of us thirsty for some form of femininity stronger than the you-complete-me variety. She is unapologetically critical of her boyfriend’s (John Cena) sexual prowess, doesn’t particularly enjoy spending the night after a would-be one night stand, and yet unabashedly loves her father (Colin Quinn). She’s not a militant, man-hating woman who finds all men disposable – she just doesn’t find them necessary to lead a fulfilling life.
And yet…I take umbrage with the fact that all it took was one good man to change her stance. It’s like that song “Miss Independent” by Kelly Clarkson, but not quite so offensive. I should add that I found nothing offensive about the eventual resolution of Amy’s dating woes, just disappointingly typical. After a tryst with Dr. Aaron Conners (Bill Hader), his insistence on seeing her again, his sincerity about his feelings toward her, and his willingness to enter into a relationship throw her off guard. Comedic high jinks ensue. I realize that this is meant to reflect the oddity of such openness in this swipe right, one and done hookup culture, but I have never once fallen victim to the belief that all guys are like that, just like not all us girls are looking to get huge diamonds on our fingers. I’m sure it speaks to some women’s experiences, just not to mine.
So, even with all of the independent, sexually in control, complete all on her own celebration of womanhood here, the movie ends just like any other romantic comedy does – in the arms of a man. I think this speaks less of the portrayal of feminism than it does of the lack of original writing in romantic comedies. It’s as if moviemakers worry that if they stray too far off the well-trodden path, they risk certain financial death. That may well be true and it may take baby steps to break out of strict romantic comedy norms. This is certainly one of those steps, but it wasn’t a big enough one for me.