REVIEW: “I FEEL PRETTY” (2018) STX ENTERTAINMENT

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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.

Grade: B
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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

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REVIEW: “SNATCHED” (2017) 20TH CENTURY FOX

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The premise of SNATCHED is simple. Emily Middleton (Amy Schumer) gets fired from her retail job in an very funny opening scene, then dumped by her boyfriend Michael (Randall Park) in another good comedic scene and convinces her super cautious house-bound mom Linda (Goldie Hawn), to go on this ‘non-refundable’ vacation with her to Ecquador. While on vacation Emily meets James (Tom Bateman), the stunning hot Brit who has some of the funniest scenes with Schumer of this whole hit-n-miss film. As for Emily and her mother, well they fall into in a completely predictable but hilarious tale, that despite a few lulls here and there, will make you laugh for most of the 90 minute run time.

The shenanigans which ensue is what makes this film a comedy, and while it might not match up to Trainwreck, it’s definitely a must see for some good laughs with just enough sentiment added into the mix for Mother’s Day. The rest of the cast features Ike Barinholtz as her mamas-boy brother Jeffrey, Wanda Sykes and Joan Cusack as the hysterically funny duo of Ruth & Barb. Add in a couple of essential co-starring roles and you have Christopher Meloni doing a short but oh-so-sweetly-done stint as funny-man, Explorer/Trader Joe’s store manager’ Roger Simmons, and Bashir Salahuddin as State Dept. Agent Morgan Russell who constant hilarious phones calls with Emily & Jeffrey add some good laughs into the mix.

Make no mistake though, this is Amy Schumer’s movie and she defnitely takes center stage in this one and pulls it off – not as completely as say she did in Trainwreck, but still does a commendable job. And yes, you will need to like her brand of comedy to be able to find the fun so to speak. Goldie is well..Goldie, and at one part showing pictures her younger-self just takes you back in time for a moment. Of course there are some completely implausable situations, but for the most part they pull them it off. I will say though, if you’re planning to take your mom for this one and she doesn’t like in your face comedy, you might get grounded as it’s R-rated for a reason. Lastly, director Jonathan Levine along with producers Peter Chernin and Paul Fieg, knew what they were doing here on run-time as they didn’t overstay their welcome and try to make it last longer than needed.
Is this the best comedy you will ever see..no it’s not, but it’s definitely a passable way to spend 90 minutes.

Grade: C
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Media Review Screening: Monday, May 8, 2017 ~ Courtesy of 20th Century Fox
NOW PLAYING NATIONWIDE

REVIEW: “TRAINWRECK” (2015) Universal Pictures

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And your comedy-date movie for the summer is…(drum roll please) “Trainwreck”!!

Written by and starring this year’s comedic ‘it-girl’ Amy Schumer as “Amy” it chronicles the misadventures of its leading character as she runs through boyfriends, numerous sexual encounters acting all the while as a chronically commitment-challenged career woman, is some serious comedic gold. When her boss “Dianna” (an unrecognizable and hilarious Tilda Swinton) assigns her a story to feature a young sports surgeon “Aaron” (Bill Hader) something happens to Amy she didn’t know was possible…she falls in love.
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The film romantic-comedy side solely rests on the perfectly imperfect character of Amy who I think we can all relate to – as either being it at some point in our own lives or in someone we know. I mean let’s be truthful here … who of us ladies hasn’t walked into a room inappropriately dressed or sat at a baby shower giving a big eyeroll at the “my life is perfect” banalities and so wanting to shut it down. Amy is that girl, the friend we love to have around because she isn’t afraid to do or say what we wish we had the guts to do or say…though she pretty much goes overboard every time and that goes double here and yes, that’s why we love her.
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Schumer is a force here, knocking every gag out of the park but also displaying some quite impressive dramatic skills that one doesn’t expect from a stand-up comedian. Bill Hader is finally given and masters the lead role he deserves perfectly. He is lovable, relatable in every way and is the perfect match for Amy on the big screen. Their chemistry here is undeniable.
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The supporting cast of the film is absolutely solid. Brie Larson is wonderful as “Kim” – Amy’s sister, Colin Quinn is “Gordon” Amy & Kim’s dad, Mike Birbiglia is “Tom” Kim’s husband, and the little scene-stealer child Evan Brinkman as “Allister” rounds off the family. Vanessa Bayer’s “Nikki” is Amy’s co-worker and just as on SNL, she holds her own here.
But perhaps the biggest surprise of the film is are the 2 big name athletes of the film in LeBron James trainwreck 2playing himself and John Cena as “Steven” one of Amy’s flings that you just can’t help but love while grabbing a scene your eyes won’t soon forget. And while I don’t know or follow basketball much (just like Amy in the film I might add) I do know who LeBron is and as it turns out the basketball superstar’s comedic timing is might just be as impressive as his game. The plethora of SNL cast, athlete and musician cameos were a welcome bonus to the movie. trainwreck 4

By now we know that with a Judd Apatow films you’ll get a nice blend of raunchy humor and heart. It is a tried and true formula – and it works again here but with something different and that’s Amy Schumer. Sure there might be a few uneven moments..but the duo here help create one of the funniest romantic comedies I have seen in a long time with one of the most fun finale scenes I’ve had the pleasure of seeing all year long. Most of all – I think we can all say a big HELLO to Amy Schumer – “Moviestar” when this hits theaters..
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This film is fantastically fun, full of laughs, new one-liners for you to memorize and a sweet story to prove that yes, my friends, there is someone for everyone in this world.

Grade: B
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Screening at Arclight Hollywood – Thursday, July 9, 2015 courtesy of Universal Pictures
Nationwide release: Friday, July 17, 2015