Amy and the Dirty Girl

Amy Schumer as Amy in Trainwreck
Amy and the Dirty Girl
A Review of Trainwreck by Nick Olszyk

MPAA Rating, R
USCCB Rating, NR
Reel Rating, Three Reels             

            After moving their sick father to an assisted living center, sisters Amy (Amy Schumer) and Kim (Brie Larson) are rummaging through old materials as they prepare to sell their childhood home. They come across a picture of their mother, now long deceased. “Aww, look at her,” Kim muses. “She was totally fuckable,” Amy states bluntly. “I mean, look at those tits.” This little phrase illustrates Amy’s underlining psychosis, suffered by many Americans. Unable to respond to genuine human love, she responds with sexual innuendo. She spends her days writing for a pulp men’s magazine and nights running through a string of alcohol, weed, and one night stands. She is essentially a player, but because she is female, it comes off as sad and a little cute rather than creepy. Despite its rough start, Trainwreck finds itself affirming the necessity of healthy relationships that involve trust, conflict resolution, and even sacrificial love. Yet watching Amy make this transition so graphically is exhausting. Only the most thick skinned individuals will still cheer her on the by the end, but we should. A step forward is still a step forward, however wobbly.
            Much of Amy’s problems were the result of poor parenting. In a gut-wrenching flashback, Amy and Kim’s father explains that he is divorcing their mom because “monogamy is not realistic,” comparing it to play with only one doll your whole life instead of many, forgetting that people are not objects to be played with then discarded. Amy takes his advice to heart moving from guy to guy with an acceleration Hugh Hefner would envy. Meanwhile, Kim ignores her father’s foolishness, settling down and soon is pregnant with her second child. “Wow,” Amy exclaims. “One more and you’ll have to move to Utah.” Suddenly, she meets Dr. Aaron Conner (Bill Hader), a surgeon for pro-athletes and immediately seduces him. She keeps waiting for the other shoe to drop so she can bolt but to her horror discovers he’s actually a nice guy. Worse still, she finds herself falling in love with him too. When they have a fight, she’s convinced it’s over, but even then he wants to “work things out.” What’s with this guy?
            Trainwreck is the latest in a series of Judd Apatow produced projects like Bridesmaids and Girls that prove girls can be just as raunchy as guys. Sometimes, this can be a refreshing reminder that women have just as many physical realities as men, but it also suggests that women are empowered not just by imitating male behavior but sinful male behavior. There are dozens of scenes and stories that are filled with the raunchiest material possible from weird things people say in the bedroom to finding contraception in strange places to…well, it’s pretty much just sex stuff.
            This behavior does not lead to the liberation and peace Amy seeks. For all Kim’s boringness, she has people she can depend on and a legacy that will continue for generations. This impetus for Amy’s redemption is her father’s death. She thinks he was a great guy because although he made many horrible decisions was fun to be around. Yet, minutes after the memorial, everyone seems to be done with him, and Amy doesn’t want that. She learns from Aaron that in any relationship there has to be sacrifices and problems don’t need to be endings.
            The real reasons to see any Apatow movie is the witty dialogue, sly acting, and fun celebrity cameos. Trainwreck has all this in droves, and Amy Schumer is just as talented a comedy writer as Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, or Tina Fey. What is endlessly frustrating is that a Catholic has to go see such a vulgar film in order to get great storytelling. One must go back almost to the 1950s to find great comedies that don’t offend the senses. After 35 years, why hasn’t EWTN made any original programming? Netflix has. Amazon Prime has. For goodness sakes, Chipotle has a webseries.

In the aftermath of Obergefell v. Hodges, I’ve seen a range of emotions from rage to disgust to fear, but after seeing Trainwreck I’ve found a new one that has proven helpful: pity. Like Obergefell, Amy is just another product of society “searching for love in all the wrong places” and doing things because she thinks it will make her happy rather than choosing to be happy independent of her situation. The reaction of many Catholics has been to circle the wagons but Christ calls us to heal those who hurt us, engage the culture and face their objections. This does not mean being as dirty as Amy, but it does mean that sometimes one must see the dirt. There’s hope for Amy. There’s hope for all of us.

This article first appeared in Catholic World Report on July 29th, 2015