I don’t particularly like Amy Schumer, but I certainly don’t hate her either. I understand a lot of people’s grievances with the comedian, but I honestly just don’t care enough to actively go out of my way to dislike her. I liked “Trainwreck,” but I hated “Snatched,” so the potential for Schumer to deliver a good film lies somewhere in the middle. Enter “I Feel Pretty,” a film that feels inherently different than her previous works. I couldn’t tell in the first trailer whether the film was going to be family-friendly or raunchy as hell, but there was something about it that felt like she was at least trying to branch out of her brand. I was surprised to see the film receive a relatively tame PG-13 rating, and given the writer’s history with “How to Be Single,” a film I still love for its uplifting message about relationships, I was at least slightly interested in “I Feel Pretty,” even if I still was super apprehensive.
Renee Bennett (Amy Schumer) is a 30-something woman living in New York City. She works in a remote office basement for the online division of a major cosmetics company, Lily Le Claire. Struggling with major self-esteem issues, all Renee wants to be is pretty, like her SoulCycle friend Mallory (Emily Ratajkowski). One day, whilst attending a SoulCycle class, Renee falls and hits her head on one of the exercise bikes. When she awakes, she looks and the mirror and sees the most beautiful woman on Earth, despite looking no different than before. With her newfound confidence in her perceived notion that she’s beautiful, Renee’s life begins to turn around. She gets a job at the main office of Lily Le Claire and works under the CEO’s watch, Avery (Michelle Williams), develops a new relationship with a man named Ethan (Rory Scovel), and begins to lives like she truly loves herself. As she continues on, Renee begins to discover the true nature of her incident, and that it wasn’t looks, but confidence, that she was missing the whole time.
The biggest problem with “I Feel Pretty” isn’t with the film itself, but with how it’s been marketed as a Schumer comedy, because this film is not that at all. This is a much sweeter rom-com about the power of self-confidence and the irrelevance of physical beauty. This is the type of film I wish I had had when I was between 8-13, as I was developing my self-esteem issues that I didn’t begin to resolve until college. This is a surprisingly family-friendly film that really can help young people struggling with self-image issues that are programmed at such a young age. On the outside, it can seem like the film is championing outer beauty over inner beauty, but the way this film sees Renee working through her issues with no change to her physical appearance gives me confidence that all I need is a different outlook to keep it going.
The best part about this film is that it’s a movie with Amy Schumer, not an Amy Schumer movie, if that makes sense. The character of Renee is much different than the similar characters she’s played in the past, and the film doesn’t feel contingent on her presence, rather getting Schumer to step out of the box to try something new. Supporting performances are also good, with Williams’ amusing take on the air-headed, but well-meaning boss of Renee being something you wouldn’t expect from an actress of Williams’ caliber to go for, but it surprisingly works. Even Lauren Hutton shows up as the eponymous Lily Le Claire and does some quite amusing work with Schumer.
Directed by co-writers Abby Kohn & Marc Silverstein, they have much more of an affinity for writing than directing, if only because this film doesn’t call for skilled directors behind the camera to pull it off. Still, this is an attractive film with a lot of really fluffy visuals that I think will hit home with the target demographic really well. This is the type of film that I would’ve eaten up as a tween, and I can only hope for the same effect with today’s youth, as its message of self-love and confidence could really help some kids already struggling with it. And I hope that 10-15 years down the road, this is the “She’s the Man” and “Mean Girls” film that people are nostalgic over.
“I Feel Pretty” just makes you feel good too. It’s not a gut-busting comedy by any means, but neither was “How to Be Single,” as both rest more on the story than the comedy, which as someone who gets enough (better) comedy on the internet, I can really appreciate. This isn’t a film that ever tries to be something it’s not, which can often times make it come across as more slight than it might intend to, but regardless, it’s so sweet and well-meaning that it’s honestly hard to hate something like this, even in its weaker moments.
Which it does have weaker moments, mostly in its middle act where there is a lot of inconsequential dialogue and plot points that come about that either never get mentioned again, or are resolved so quickly one has to think why they were even included. At 110 minutes, “I Feel Pretty” is fairly long for a rom-com, so there are quite a few scenes that could’ve been shortened or edited out completely to make the film more lean and mean. The film also doesn’t have anything so incredibly memorable that people will be quoting it in the future like something like “Bridesmaids” or “The Hangover,” leaving the film something that’s lovely in the moment, but doesn’t leave an incredibly pronounced mark once the credits roll.
“I Feel Pretty” shocked me, not just in that it’s good, but in the tone it wove as opposed to what the trailer wanted you to believe it to be. This isn’t a raunchy Schumer comedy where she talks about her vagina and shoots people in foreign countries, this is a much sweeter, far more genuine film that she gets to showcase herself for the better in. Even though the former type of film is her “thing,” I much prefer her in something like this, doing actual good for the messages being put out in romantic comedies. I just hope a good deal of people who need to hear the message of this film get the chance to, and to really take it in. It’s not perfect, nor is it particularly memorable, but it’s a wonderful spring distraction of saccharine sweet goodness before the onslaught of blockbuster action films hit the scene.
Directed by: Abby Kohn & Marc Silverstein
Starring: Amy Schumer, Michelle Williams, Rory Scovel, Emily Ratajkowski, Tom Hopper, Sasheer Zamata, Adrian Martinez, Dave Attell, with Naomi Campbell, and Lauren Hutton.
Runtime: 110 minutes
Rating: PG-13 for sexual content, some partial nudity, and language.
STXfilms, Huayi Brothers Pictures and Voltage Pictures present, a Voltage Pictures & Wonderland Sound and Vision production, “I Feel Pretty”