The last couple of days have proven to be big ones for women in comedy. First, the acclaimed, up-and-coming young actress Brie Larson signed on to co-star in Trainwreck, a film directed by Judd Apatow and written by and starring stand up comedian Amy Schumer. And if that wasn’t already exciting enough, perennial favorite and comedy queen Tina Fey has jumped on board of The Taliban Shuffle, a black comedy set during wartime that she will produce and star in. Many details for both films are under wraps right now, but we are certainly looking forward to seeing these ladies make us laugh.
Trainwreck is set to come out in July 2015. While the plot is unknown, we can pretty much bet that Judd Apatow, known for Knocked Up, The 40 Year Old Virgin, and many of the most definitive R-rated comedies of the last decade, and Amy Schumer, writer and star of Comedy Central’s Inside Amy Schumer, will provide plenty of absurd but wildly entertaining humor. This will be the first time Judd has directed a film that he didn’t write, so we know that Schumer’s script must be something special and is probably along the lines of Apatow’s traditional blend of laugh-out-loud comedy and heartfelt human drama. Schumer will now star in the film alongside Brie Larson, Hollywood’s soon to be “it” girl (watch out, J. Lawr!). Larson recently received a lot of praise for her strong performance in Short Term 12 and was considered a dark horse for a Best Actress nomination for much of the season. We’ve seen her attack a variety of genres in the past, with supporting roles in the drama The Spectacular Now and the crowd favorite comedy 21 Jump Street. We’re looking forward to see Larson work her comedic chops again in Trainwrek. Saturday Night Live alum Bill Hader will also act in the film.
This could be a big break for Larson, as Apatow has forwarded the careers of many women in the films he has directed and produced. Actresses with both comedic and dramatic styles such as Rose Byrne (Bridesmaids) and Emma Stone (Superbad) have emerged from Apatow flicks as easily recognizable stars. Larson is no doubt talented and she has exercised her comedic chops in a few films like the previously mentioned 21 Jump Street, Don Jon, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. She has also had parts in comedy TV series’ such as Community and The Kroll Show. In 21 Jump Street, Larson mastered the party scenes, playing a great drunk and adding funny touches to all of the awkward romantic scenes she shared with Jonah Hill. Larson can surely bring that excellent comedic timing she showcased in her previous comedic performances to Trainwreck.
Additionally, Apatow will certainly be able to help Schumer as a comedic writer and performer. He produced the female led comedy blockbuster Bridesmaids, which landed former Saturday Night Live star Kristen Wiig and her writing partner Annie Mumolo an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. Melissa McCarthy also received a nomination for Bust Supporting Actress. If everything goes well, Schumer may very well find herself as the next big female comedic voice in Hollywood.
The Taliban Shuffle, Fey’s flick, has no set release date or director attached to the project yet. The only thing we do know at this point is that it’s based on a memoir of the same name by Kim Barker. The book captures Barker’s experience as a journalist in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Fey will produce alongside her long time SNL boss Lorne Michaels. Her former 30 Rock co writer, Rubbery Carlock, penned the script. Fey seems like she could be the perfect casting choice for this black comedy; in a 2011 New York Times review of the memoir, writer Michiko Kakutani compared Barker’s voice to that of Fey’s. Plus, Tina Fey is a comedic rock star and could play any funny role. This film could certainly push Fey forward as well. While we all know and love her from her television work, the film side of her career has not succeeded as much. Last year’s Admission with Paul Rudd did not do well at box office, and her other films such as Date Night and Baby Mama also did not do as well as expected. The only film Fey has had a lot of success with is the ever-popular Mean Girls. Hopefully this different style of comedy proves to be more successful at the box office and among critics. We don’t see war portrayed with a comedic touch often, or from a woman’s point of view for that matter, so this should make for a fresh and original comedy.
At least it’s encouraging to know that with these strong female writers and producers at the head of these projects, we can expect strong and smart female characters in these comedies. It is still unfortunately rare to find solid, funny roles for women in the comedy world, and the ladies mentioned in this piece and many others are working hard to fight this. Luckily, we now have a lot of funny movies to look forward to! If you can’t wait for these ladies to make you laugh, check out Schumer in Inside Amy Schumer and Fey in Muppets Most Wanted this March.
Article by Sam Crichton