DirectorAbby Kohn, Marc Silverstein
Release Date(s)2018 (July 17, 2018)
Studio(s)Voltage/Wonderland South/STX Films (Universal Pictures)
- Film/Program Grade: B+
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: B-
I Feel Pretty, a comedy starring Amy Schumer, contains an important message sandwiched in among its many body-shaming gags. Drawing on a theme in movies from The Hunchback of Notre Dame to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the film tells us that self-confidence pre-empts society’s perception of physical beauty.
Renee Bennett (Schumer) struggles with insecurity, largely because her body defies the typical notion of attractiveness. She works for a high-fashion cosmetics company called Lily LeClaire, but in a dingy office far from the firm’s swanky Fifth Avenue headquarters. Her dream is to look like the long-legged, wraith-thin models who grace the pages of Vogue. She prays for a miracle to transform her physical appearance so that other people will actually notice her.
During a SoulCycle class, she takes a bad fall, bumping her head and knocking herself out. When she wakes up and glances into a mirror, though she looks exactly the same as before the accident, she sees herself as a ravishing beauty. A new Renee emerges, physically unchanged but with new self-confidence that prompts her to apply for a job as receptionist at the Lily LeClaire flagship office in Manhattan.
Initially aghast at Renee’s ordinary appearance but finding her sunny attitude refreshing, company head Avery LeClaire (Michelle Williams) hires her, and discovers she is of greater value to the company than for merely greeting people.
Ms. Schumer has been unafraid to deal head on with body issues – body shaming, insecurity, low self-esteem – not only in this film, but in her stand-up routines and in her previous feature, Trainwreck. I Feel Pretty is a variation on the Cinderella story, as Renee enters a world she had considered closed to her and experiences being valued for her intelligence and integrity. Although the movie is predictable, Ms. Schumer is both funny and sympathetic as a young woman who feels like a loser because of the many unintended but cutting insults she deals with daily, such as a clothing shop employee glancing at her body and saying she should look online for larger sizes.
Essentially a one-joke movie, I Feel Pretty is sustained by Ms. Schumer’s endearing charm. A standout scene is a meet-cute sequence when she thinks, because of her delusional beauty, she is being hit on by Ethan (Rory Scovel), a guy she meets at the cleaners. Both funny and touching, the scene finds Renee the aggressor with Ethan, who has his own confidence issues, initially dumbfounded and eventually charmed by her complete lack of artifice.
For a comedy, the film is pretty light on jokes, with too much screen time devoted to hitting the theme, when this can be accomplished while turning situations humorous. All it takes is imagination and sharper comedy writing. Unlike Trainwreck, I Feel Pretty wasn’t written by Ms. Schumer, and her potential hasn’t been tapped to the maximum by writer-directors Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein. The movie walks a fine line between important message about self-belief and a romp about an ugly duckling who thinks she’s a swan.
The supporting cast includes Aidy Bryant (Saturday Night Live) and Busy Philipps as Renee’s best friends, Adrian Martinez as Renee’s sole co-worker at her dank downtown office, Lauren Hutton as the founder of the Lily LeClaire company, and Tom Hopper as Grant LeClair, Lily’s handsome brother who sees Renee as yet another bedroom conquest.
I Feel Pretty, rated PG-13, is a comedy shuffling between dual paths that awkwardly mesh. The joy is watching Renee have fun, unencumbered by outside expectations.
Bonus materials on the 2-disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack include deleted scenes, gag reel, and the featurette Being Pretty, in which the cast reflects on what it means to feel pretty. A digital copy is enclosed.
- Dennis Seuling