Editor's note: Spoiler alert — this film critique is riddled with sub-plot spoilers. You have been advised.
By Samantha J. Grasso
The 700 block of Congress Ave. was crowded with bumbling lines, passersby and traffic control on a cloudy Sunday afternoon. Fans of comedian Amy Schumer and spectators alike careened their heads for a glimpse of the “Trainwreck” film’s Schumer, Judd Apatow or Bill Hader. Possessed by the cast, I found myself in line for the film’s work-in-progress world premiere, leaning against the exterior of the Paramount Theater, wringing my hands and film wristband every now and again in hope I would get into the screening.
After finding my seat in the fourth row of the theater and listening to the introduction by the theater manager, I raved when Apatow, Schumer, Hader and even current SNL player Vanessa Bayer jumped on stage. Moments after, the house lights were dimmed and the film began.
Written by Schumer and directed by Apatow, “Trainwreck” is a quirky, enrapturing comedy about a woman named Amy (Amy Schumer, surprise) and her life as a drinking, weed-smoking, casual sexual-encountering journalist, working for an elite men’s magazine — think “GQ” but trashier. Between dealing with her demanding boss Dianna (Tilda Swinton), her sick father Gordon (Colin Quinn) and her nagging sister Kim (Brie Larson), Amy’s “can’t be tamed” attitude falters when she falls in love with a sports injury doctor, Aaron Conners (Bill Hader).
“Trainwreck” also features a surprising amount of celebrity cameos including John Cena, Matthew Broderick, Marv Albert, Tony Romo, Amar'e Stoudemire and Daniel Radcliffe (Side note: if anything go see the film for Radcliffe’s scenes — suddenly it will all make sense why he was seen walking those 12 dogs in New York six months earlier).
While I found the number of star cameos to be excessive and could argue it might have just been a gimmick to attract audiences, Schumer’s writing sells the movie for itself. From her realistic, non-misogynistic period jokes to the impetus of Amy’s character development in which she nearly sleeps with a teenaged intern named Donald (Ezra Miller) — it’s funnier than it sounds, I promise — Schumer is the kind of witty brain I would want scripting the TV pilot of my life.
While I enjoy Schumer’s portrayal of the modern romance, it isn’t Amy or Aaron who made me fall in love with the film. Oddly enough, the real star of “Trainwreck” is NBA athlete LeBron James as himself. Playing the best friend of Aaron, James the wing-person everyone needs in life.
I, much like film-Amy, know close to nothing about sports. Even more so, the only thing I know about LeBron is his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers from the Miami Heat, the majority of that fact which I had to Google. But after watching “Trainwreck,” I have never been more #inlove with an NBA player, nor have hoped so much that an athlete’s real-life persona fit the friendliness and genuine care that LeBron showed for Aaron in the film.
At first, we see LeBron for just a few seconds as he drops by Aaron’s office in what could have just been a short cameo appearance. When Aaron calls Amy and asks her out for a date, the audience is pleasantly surprised to see that LeBron’s role isn’t over. The camera zooms out from a close-up shot on Aaron to a mid-shot of LeBron and Aaron sitting together at a restaurant. LeBron is attentive and engaged with moral support, his posture relaxed with anticipation. He asks an excited, “What’d she say, what’d she say?” and cheers when Aaron says he’ll see Amy soon.
When Aaron takes Amy to a Knicks game, LeBron watches his friend’s back and makes small talk with Amy before giving her the third degree. What are her intentions with Aaron? Where does she see the relationship going? LeBron tells her he’s going to ask her a question before flat out deadpanning and telling Amy not to hurt Aaron, one of LeBron’s many shining lines in the film.
In a scene where Aaron and LeBron are playing basketball one-on-one, we watch the two men face-off in a battle of nowhere near epic proportions as LeBron easily takes down Aaron one block at a time. He steals Aaron’s layups and effortlessly holds Aaron in place with one arm extended. Like any best friend, LeBron pushes Aaron to be the best athletic version of his self and lets him get a shot in once he’s earned it, or something. LeBron does not, however, let Aaron call him his bitch. That’s a line some best friends shouldn’t cross.
After LeBron sees Aaron going through a hard time, LeBron moves the audience emotionally when he stages a fake injury to get Aaron’s attention. When Aaron arrives at the gym, we find that LeBron has organized an intervention to get Aaron out of his rut — a move so kind and generous, it’s something I would want from my best friend if I were down in the dumps.
As far as I’m concerned, LeBron stole the show, as well as America’s hearts. His loyalty, sensibility and protectiveness prove to be just the hint of bromance and magic that “Trainwreck” needs. Who knows — perhaps this film will open up other Hollywood opportunities for LeBron and lead him in the path of Michael Jordan, Shaq and other great NBA actors who came before him? I look forward to Apatow’s next production, hopefully with LeBron as lead in his very own spin-off sequel.