The premise of I Feel Pretty is a tricky one to execute without being offensive. It is a comedy about a woman who is unhappy with her physical appearance. While exercising, she suffers a serious blow to the head. Then, the next time she looks in the mirror, she thinks she has suddenly become beautiful. Most of the promotion for this film made it seem like it was inviting audiences to laugh at her for thinking she is sexy. Watching a movie body-shame somebody is not my idea of entertainment, so I came into it with a bit of trepidation.
In the end, I Feel Pretty is a very slight, yet pleasant, surprise. It is not actually mocking the protagonist at all. In fact, some may find it somewhat empowering. Though the production as a whole is only okay, Amy Schumer is wonderful in the central role. Her confidence and affability does a lot to smooth over several of the more problematic aspects of the screenplay. She understands what is funny in this story and it has nothing to do with her looks. We are laughing with her, not at her.
Amy Schumer has the presence and comedic timing of a movie star. That is what carries I Feel Pretty. Without her, it is a forgettable, and potentially unpleasant, romantic comedy. With her, it is watchable and occasionally entertaining. She brings so much energy to the character that, even though no one else really gets the opportunity to cut loose in the same way, it becomes contagious. I Feel Pretty may not be special, but Schumer certainly is.
The film itself does not have either the energy or the confidence of its star. Even with its mildly original concept, it feels like a generic romantic comedy screenplay that got lucky with its casting. Schumer is why this is as successful as it is, but she gets a little assistance. Michelle Williams is funny in an odd performance as the head of the cosmetics company where Schumer’s character works. Also, Rory Scovel, playing a straight man role as the love interest, is charmingly awkward. It helps that nearly everyone is nice. Albeit, that only gets you so far.
I Feel Pretty (106 minutes, minus the end credits) faced accusations of body-shaming before its release, however those might fade away now that general audiences have been able to see it. The message the story contains is, if you can be comfortable in your own skin, other people will appreciate you for who you are, instead of how you look. It sticks with that idea almost all the way to the end (the big climax muddles things a little bit). It is neither bold, lazy nor pandering enough to be insulting. But it also fails to be clever or fun enough to be memorable for positive reasons.
Really, the purpose of seeing this movie is to witness its lead at work. This is the third project Amy Schumer has starred in, after Trainwrecked and Snatched. I Feel Pretty is about as good as Snatched. They are both nowhere near as strong as Trainwrecked, which she also wrote. Maybe she should try her hand at that again. She has proven she is entirely capable of carrying a film. Now, hopefully, she can get some better material.
3 out of 5
Amy Schumer as Renee Bennett
Rory Scovel as Ethan
Michelle Williams as Avery LeClaire
Tom Hopper as Grant LeClair
Busy Phillipps as Jane
Aidy Bryant as Vivian
Written and Directed by Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein