I FEEL PRETTY ½
PG-13, 110 mins.
2018, PG-13, 110 mins.
Amy Schumer as Renee Bennett / Michelle Williams as Avery LeClaire / Busy Philipps as Jane / Aidy Bryant as Vivian / Naomi Campbell as Helen / Tom Hopper as Grant LeClair / Lauren Hutton as Lily LeClaire / Adrian Martinez as Mason / Chloe Hurst as Greta
Written and directed by Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein
I FEEL PRETTY is
a new comedy with awfully sweet and honorable intentions in terms of its
core message and themes, but the manner with which it executes them is
kind of maddeningly sloppy and counterproductive.
this latest Amy Schumer starring vehicle - via its somewhat high concept
narrative - advocates a message of believing in oneself and the overall
importance of having inner self confidence in terms of how people define
their identities, but then it really fumbles the ball in terms of grossly
miscalculating its usage of fat shamming humor to help sell its message.
In many respects, I FEEL PRETTY distressingly wants to have it both
ways: It wants to tell a story of how a plus-sized woman learns to respect
herself for who she is while turning a blind eye to body positivity and
projecting this same poor soul through a series of physically and
emotionally debasing scenes that uses her girth for the purposes of cheap
laughs. Beyond that, I FEEL
PRETTY is also terribly negligent of being chronically unfunny and
utilizing one too many overused Hollywood genre conventions as well.
Schumer is a
comedic silver screen performer whose past movie work has been
inconsistently good at best. I thoroughly enjoyed her in the brash, yet tender and
funny TRAINWRECK, but found her
follow-up in the cross border abduction comedy SNATCHED
to be mostly forgetable. Schumer's
stand up work has challenged ideas of woman's roles in the industry, and
as an on-screen presence she has a relatable, everywoman charm that makes
her self-deprecatingly authentic. She
brings ample spunk and commitment to her role in I FEEL PRETTY, but even
her commendable dedication on display can't save a film muddled, overly
long, messily edited, and containing far too many mixed messages that all
conspire and work against one another.
I FEEL PRETTY is proof positive that you can have a very appealing
actress front and center in a comedy that's all but undone by multiple
here as a deeply insecure young woman named Renee, who acknowledges that
she is clearly overweight, not drop dead gorgeous, and, as a negative
result, sees many opportunities pass her by because she doesn't look like
a glamour magazine cover model. During one particularly nasty Manhattan spin class she takes
an awful fall, hits her head, and when she regains
consciousness and looks in the mirror she somehow believes that she's been
magically transformed into a knockout bombshell that she has always
dreamed of becoming. With a
newfound headstrong assuredness, Renee believes that she can conquer just
about any roadblock in her way, including climbing the corporate ladder at
the cosmetic company that she works at.
Yet, what she is blissfully unaware of is that she has not
physically changed...at all...and remains just the same as she did
pre-accident to everyone else around her, which makes just about every
encounter she has with friends and work colleagues all the more awkward.
Now, I see where
I FEEL PRETTY was going with this material.
Society at large has been supremely guilty of informing and
aggressively encouraging woman to second-guess their relative
attractiveness and physical worthiness for as long as there have
been movies. When we're
bombarded with a constant stream of images of the ideal woman it forces
people to hyper scrutinize their most minute flaws in the most unhealthy
ways, leading many to become obsessively perfectionist with
attaining the unattainable. Even
truly beautiful woman have become so blindsided by examining their
inherent limitations - no matter how minor - that having any semblance of
self-esteem is nearly impossible. These
are unquestionably important and timely themes that are worthy of
But, dear Lord, I
FEEL PRETTY is too dumbed down as a frequent over-the-top comedy to
explore them with any really weight, even when it paradoxically thinks
it's thoroughly dealing with them. One
thing that I think the film does right is that it keeps Renee's perception
of her newfound beauty all in her head.
Since no one else around her can see this attractiveness it stands
to reason that we the audience shouldn't see what she sees in the mirror.
That would have been cheating a bit.
The film also scores some much needed points in a romantic comedy
subplot involving Renee courting Ethan (a rather fine Rory Scovel), an
affable chap that, like Renee early in the film, is deeply insecure of
himself as an average nobody, but is impressed and enamored with how Renee
seems to radiate positive energy. He
becomes attracted to her unending spunk and inner fortitude to take life
on headfirst. The chemistry
that Scovel and Schumer have is natural and unforced and arguably the best
element of I FEEL PRETTY, so much so that I almost wished the entire movie
was about them and skipped the more fantastical body image switch premise.
Man, this movie
means well. It really does.
Self-hatred of one's body is such a damaging force.
Maybe this is why I ultimately found I FEEL PRETTY so off-puttingly
because it really wants to market itself and make us riotously laugh at
all of the demeaning social indiscretions Renee goes through every day and
then make us feel for her and her kind as she makes a spiritual
something unavoidably strange in the way I FEEL PRETTY wants
to have its cake and eat it too, especially for the way it encourages us
to chuckle at woman like Renee at her poor expense while begging us to
care for her plight. The resulting
whiplash effect is hard to ignore.
One arc of the
film left a supremely bad taste in my mouth.
When Renee thinks she's exquisitely beautiful after her accident
she believes she's a shoe-in to get a coveted receptionist job at her
cosmetics company, and its squeaky voiced Barbie doll like CEO Avery
LeClair (Michelle Williams, joyously embodying offbeat weirdness in one of
the film's sublime highlights) is so impressed with Renee's passion that
she hires her on the spot. Latter in the film LeClair and her underlines are desperately
trying to come up with a way to peddle their latest brand of cosmetics to
low end and insecure ugly ducklings, because getting their money is the
best thing for business. Predictably,
Renee becomes involved in this new marketing campaign as a consultant,
mostly because she can use her past perceived ugliness to help her bosses
sell consumer goods to other ugly women.
This all builds to a bewilderingly wrongheaded climax that
pathetically tries to show Renee fully becoming self-actualized by realizing
that her worth
is well beyond looks, and she crashes the product launch and gives a
would-be impassioned speech about women accepting themselves for who they
really are. Some may be moved
by the sentimentality of this moment, but I was driven to reach for a barf
I FEEL PRETTY simply doesn't work. It's a broken film of noble intentions. Plus, it succumbs to cheap and stale genre contrivances (anyone with a decent head on their shoulder will be able to foresee where this film is heading with numbing predictability). There was also some opportunities for the film to perhaps be an edgy and satiric takedown of the modern cosmetic industry and how they ruthlessly prey on women like Renee, but having a plot where she works within said industry and then uses it to propel her renewed feelings of worth seems frustratingly paradoxical. I FEEL PRETTY really seems to turn a blind eye to how corporations profit from insecurity. Lastly, the movie simply didn't make me laugh enough, which is an all too important element for all screen comedies to warrant a solid recommendation. There's also something to be said about I FEEL PRETTY not really being altogether fresh and novel, seeing as other comedies of the distant past like SHALLOW HAL and THE NUTTY PROFESSOR tackled a similar premise.
And maybe, just maybe, people dealing with cripplingly bad self-worth and body disturbance issues isn't really all that amusing when it boils down to it. Just sayin'.