When the trailer for “I Feel Pretty” first dropped, some people expressed concerns that the storyline and main character were in fact more harmful than helpful to the body positivity/shaming movement. All due to the fact that Amy Schumer is a blonde, white, able-bodied woman of average weight and build. If her body is considered ‘comedic’ then what hope is there for the rest of us? Well… that was the trailer… so until all these naysayers see the actual movie, honestly just sit down. Because it’s really nothing like that. In fact I’d go with it being a rather poignant truth about real life and a pointed comedy. An almost a modern twist of the ‘Ugly Duckling‘ fable.
In “I Feel Pretty” – Amy Schumer stars as Renee Bennett, an “average” (by society’s standards at least), woman who feels trapped and saddened by her appearance. In fact, her insecurities dig so deeply into every aspect of her life that they keep her from pursuing relationships and enjoying spending time with her two best friends Jane (Busy Philips) and Vivian (Aidy Bryant). But perhaps most devastatingly of all, that disdain she feels for her appearance, well it prevents her from chasing her dream job. So instead of working within the palatial 5th Avenue offices of top beauty brand LeClaire, she is stuck in a basement workspace in dingy building off an alleyway, working on the ‘online’ forgotten section of the company’s website with one pretty non-verbal and sometimes pants-less workmate, Mason (Adrian Martinez).
Like so many of us do in real life, Renee attempts to fix her life by changing her appearance. She heads into a SoulCycle spin class to do just this, but after taking not one, but two falls off her bike (the second one being the ‘magical one’), she awakens from a blackout to find out that she is now drop dead stunningly gorgeous. Or at least, she thinks she is. To the audience – and everybody in her life – she looks exactly the same as she always did – and unlike other make-over movies from years gone by, we are never actually given that glimpse of the person Renee thinks she has transformed into. Which is actually a stroke of genius because it truly makes this a film of it’s own in this sense. We don’t need to know what she thinks she see’s – it’s the fact the only she can see that makes this character truly shine. And shine she does.
Schumer is her best hilarious self here, but don’t think she is the only one. Michelle Williams as Avery LeClare, comes through in what can only be described as a perfect mockery of what is surely a played upon caricature of Ivanka Trump, and she is comedy revelation with her whispery, annoying voice that no one can take seriously. The always and still so beautiful, Lauren Hutton as Lily LeClare is perfect symmetry. In any other film Avery would have been the oh-so-pretty adversary Renee has to triumphant over to succeed. However, this film just does that exact opposite of what you think it will do and cares nothing for the tired female stereotypes that we are so used to and think of and so this movie goes in a very different direction. Not to be left out are the guys of this movie. Rory Scovel as Ethan, who meets Renee at the dry cleaners in a scene that will have you rolling in your seat, and leads into way more hilarity and love, along with hunky Grant LeClare (Tom Hopper), Avery’s brother and almost crush of Renee’s – add the man-factor to this fun film.
But the crux of this movie is that Renee’s body and appearance are never the butt of the final joke. In her scenes with Emily Ratajkowski’s character, Mallory, a model she meets at the gym, the joke is always on society itself and the way in which women with different bodies are so differently treated. There’s no denying that two these women have very different body shapes – one which is universally celebrated as perfection and one which is not. All these scenes do is hold a magnifying glass up to how they are both treated – and the jokes pretty much write themselves. In this case, all you can do is laugh. It is treading this perfect line between humour, physical comedy and body positivity that the brilliance behind “I Feel Pretty” really shines. Some of Schumer’s best moments come from the scenes where she is just let loose on her own, to be her own Schumer-self.
To sum it up – the film is cute, sweet & funny – all the while sending strong message dealing with how one looks and self-esteem is judged in our society. It will also leave you with some emotion that you didn’t see coming at you because it can be a bit of a roller-coaster when you sit through a movie that has you laughing one moment, and then tearing up the next. I think co-star Aidy Bryant, might have said it best when she wrote on her Instagram account. “I’m very proud to be in a movie tells the story of someone who believes confidence is directly tied to looks but learns that confidence comes from within. It’s a movie I wish I could have seen when I was 14.” Yep.
Media Review Screening: Monday, April 16, 2018 ~ Courtesy of STX Entertainment
“I FEEL PRETTY” will be released nationwide Friday, April 20, 2018 // Worldwide release May 2018