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'Trainwreck' movie review -- 3 stars

Amy (Amy Schumer) with Aaron (Bill Hader) in

Amy (Amy Schumer) with Aaron (Bill Hader) in "Trainwreck," the new comedy from director/producer Judd Apatow, written by and starring Schumer as a woman who lives her life without apologies. Photo Credit: Universal Studios / Mary Cybulski

Amy Schumer has tapped into something fundamental in the zeitgeist of this self-confessional age, with a style of humor that combines witty self-deprecation and the satirist's broader perspective.

"Inside Amy Schumer" restricts her to brief comic vignettes, but "Trainwreck," which Schumer wrote and Judd Apatow directs, frees her for a more in-depth consideration and critique of unfair, oppressive social expectations for women, albeit one masked within the confines of a romantic comedy.

That is to say it's very funny and very smart, much like its creator, who stars here as a version of herself, working for a Manhattan-based lifestyle magazine and deeply, deeply afraid of any sort of commitment.

The fictional Amy's lone wolf sensibilities are challenged when she starts to spend time with a sports doctor named Aaron (Bill Hader).

The plot is a secondary concern and entire scenes go by without the slightest bit of relevance to the bottom-line development of Amy and Aaron's connection. That's standard for Apatow, who has always had a tough time cutting the fat from his movies.

But it's welcome here, affording Schumer more time to riff on everything from workplace absurdities (in the form of Tilda Swinton's hilarious editrix) to the subtle competitive tensions in female friendships and the practical challenges of sleeping with another person, while effectively imbuing her fictional self with serious and sad underpinnings.

There's a wide range of comic material in "Trainwreck," including scenes that function as "Airplane!"-level spoofs -- the highlight being LeBron James, as Hader's best friend, giving him love advice while annihilating him in a game of 1-on-1 -- and others that directly quote Woody Allen's New York City valentines.

It's consistently entertaining, enhanced significantly by a supporting cast that not only includes James and Swinton, but the outstanding John Cena subverting his muscle-bound stature as a casual sex buddy of Amy's who'd love to be something more.

It'd be nice to see what Schumer could do with a tighter cinematic premise and a bit more focus overall, but even in this somewhat messy form, "Trainwreck" delivers more laughs per volume than any movie in a long time while standing against society's conventional notions of who a woman should be.


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