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Review: I Feel Pretty (2018)

I Feel Pretty (2018)

Directed by: Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein

Premise: A woman (Amy Schumer) with average looks suffers from insecurity and low self-esteem. After striking her head, this woman believes that she is beautiful and carries on with confidence.

What Works: The extent to which I Feel Pretty succeeds is largely to do with Amy Schumer and her energy and comic timing. The subject matter is right up Schumer’s alley; her standup comedy has largely focused on self-deprecation and the indignities of contemporary womanhood and at its best moments I Feel Pretty plays to Schumer’s strengths. She’s also impressive as a dramatic performer and Schumer gets to show off her talents in that respect as well. She’s paired with Rory Scovel and the two of them have a romance that’s enjoyable to watch. And in general that’s the tone much of this movie takes. I Feel Pretty is an agreeable and well-meaning picture. It also features a notable supporting performance by Michelle Williams as the CEO of a high end cosmetics line. Williams usually plays dramatic roles, in which she is consistently good, but I Feel Pretty gives Williams a chance to demonstrate her comic talents and she proves capable.

What Doesn’t: I Feel Pretty is a well-intended movie with an overt message about body positivity and self-esteem but the social consciousness overrides the comedy. The movie is just not very funny. It has its humorous moments and most of the jokes land but nothing in it elicits more than a chuckle. That’s largely the fault of a predictable story and a pedestrian approach to the ideas. I Feel Pretty follows a familiar romantic comedy plotline in which the protagonist misrepresents herself, falls in love under false pretenses, and then makes amends. This film is exactly what it is advertises itself to be and nothing else; anyone who has seen the trailer will be able to map out exactly where this story is going and there are virtually no surprises. I Feel Pretty is also far too safe in its social messaging. The movie takes on the way women’s sense of self-worth is based upon their appearance and the anxiety caused by impossible beauty standards but the film’s take on those topics is never more than insipid. I Feel Pretty settles on the old standbys: beauty is just skin deep, self-worth is deeper than our body shape, and what makes each us special is on the inside. The movie’s bland take is especially disappointing coming from Amy Schumer. Her standup comedy and television skits have been smart and cutting but this is as edgy as a special episode of a 1990s sitcom. The social message of I Feel Pretty is further problematic because it is compromised. The point of the story is ostensibly that beauty comes in all sizes and women should embrace themselves but the film also has a lot of fun at Schumer’s expense such as a wet t-shirt contest sequence in which she dances with abandon while the camera lingers on her body in a way that makes a joke out of her physical awkwardness.

Bottom Line: I Feel Pretty is an undemanding movie. It’s more concerned with making a statement than it is with being funny but that statement is one we’ve all heard before. Amy Schumer is a capable actress but this material does not suit her talents.

Episode: #696 (April 29, 2018)