I Feel Pretty

Review by Eve Jones

Directed by

Abby Kohn Marc Silverstein

Starring

Amy Schumer Michelle Williams

Anticipation.

Optimistic that this will be the good kind of bad film.

Enjoyment.

Schumer delivers her usual funny, self-deprecating performance.

In Retrospect.

Not totally lifeless, but not anything special either.

A head injury drastically improves Amy Schumer’s life in this misguided body comedy.

“Change your mind, change your life!” shouts the spin class instructor in Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein’s I Feel Pretty – but this is advice that self-loathing Renee (Amy Schumer) perhaps takes a little too seriously. After falling off her exercise bike during class and bumping her head, Renee believes she’s been transformed into the sexiest woman alive. Believing her wildest fantasy has come true, she uses her newfound confidence to apply for her dream job as a receptionist at the Fifth Avenue HQ of fictional makeup brand, Lily LeClaire.

However, in a short-sighted move, the film seemingly conflates low income with low self-esteem. Working on a ‘diffusion line’ for budget shoppers, the company’s CEO, Avery LeClaire (Michelle Williams with a squeaky voice), enlists Renee to provide insight into this market. It’s suggested that this knowledge comes automatically with her failure to conform to conventional standards of beauty. Had this flaw been ironed out, we might have been more invested in Renee’s professional success as a champion for the everyman.

The film’s low stakes plot leaves space for a progressive and thoughtful contemplation on body image, but this is never fully delivered. Instead the film fills this void with formulaic jokes where Renee crudely expresses her unwavering confidence – checking herself out, parading around naked – while other characters either disapprove or admire her. It’s a formula that, in combination with Amy Schumer’s commitment, does generate laughs, but this rehashing grows tiresome over the course of the film.

Renee’s genuine and sensitive love interest, Ethan (Rory Scovel), is one of the film’s successes. The exploration of his insecurities, as well as Renee’s, sheds light on the equally damaging effects of male stereotyping and is a refreshing addition to the narrative. Renee’s best friends, Jane (Busy Philipps) and Vivian (Aidy Bryant) also foil her superficiality and provide examples of women who value their personalities above all else.

Yet Renee’s progression to self-acceptance is punctuated not by the realistic tackling of insecurities, but by the single revelation that she looked the same, before and after her head trauma. Changes in her self-image still stem from the validation that other people believe she is beautiful and intelligent, rather than her personal growth. It’s a small distinction, but for a film attempting to speak about such a widely relatable and important issue, this neglect leads to an ironically shallow finale.

Published 28 Apr 2018

Tags: Amy Schumer Michelle Williams

Anticipation.

Optimistic that this will be the good kind of bad film.

Enjoyment.

Schumer delivers her usual funny, self-deprecating performance.

In Retrospect.

Not totally lifeless, but not anything special either.

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