The premise of I Feel Pretty should sound immediately familiar: Renee (Amy Schumer) struggles with insecurity and a job she hates – until she falls off an exercise bike and hits her head. After regaining consciousness she sees herself in a completely different light – literally – as a gorgeous, thin supermodel. Although she hasn’t changed physically, her new attitude and off the charts self-esteem help her land her dream job for a company she wants to work for and even snags herself a boyfriend while in line at the dry cleaners.
Unfortunately, her sudden shift in personality causes some friction with her longtime friends played by Busy Phillips and Aidy Bryant (Horace and Pete, Girls), none of whom know what’s going through Renee’s freshly bumped head.
Schumer, known for her roles in Trainwreck and Snatched, does a fabulous job as the conflicted Renee, both when she’s massively insecure and then when she gets her new lease on life that catapults with her new high self-esteem and positive outlook. While this comedy does garner a few out loud laughs, I think it’s mostly geared to the twelve-year old in all of us who spends hours staring in the mirror wondering if we’re attractive or good enough to make our dreams come true.
It’s not hard to see why Ethan (Rory Scovel) finds Schumer’s character irresistible and attractive. Unlike most people, Renee’s newfound personality beams confidence which begets moments where at first he wants to cringe but later discover he finds her more appealing for having the heart and guts to pursue what she wants in life without inhibition or doubt.
I Feel Pretty is definitely a wake up call for both sexes. Society is so focused on looks that we often forget to look at the whole person. We are more than just our pant size or our pudgy cheeks. Craving midnight snack and indulging in carbs doesn’t make someone a bad person or any less deserving than the supermodel who denies herself those very things in order to meet the standards of those who don’t. This is perfectly portrayed by Emily Ratajkowski’s character whose outer beauty does little to save her from the realities of life and love.
One of my favorite scenes happens when Renee is standing in line at the grocery store and the guy in front of her looks behind him and offers the pretty and skinny girl that’s behind Renee to go ahead of him because she only has one item. Renee, who also only has one item, gets upset that he offered the pretty girl to go ahead just because she was pretty. When the man claims he didn’t even see Renee, she accuses him of being sexist. And so it would seem – until he leans forward and embraces the man ahead of him, his partner.
Looks, words, gestures and even simple miscommunications all lead to the doubts and insecurities that we carry throughout our lives. Someone who didn’t have the balls to call the man out on skipping them for the pretty girl behind them might have spent the rest of the night downing a pint of ice cream alone in their apartment; self-sabotaging is another way of dealing with depression and self-doubt. But Renee speaks up for herself, and perhaps for all of us. So the next time we’re standing in line and get overlooked for the pretty girl or cute guy, the other person may have really just not seen us.
Writers/directors Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein (The Vow, Never Been Kissed) keep things mostly running smoothly, though a few odd editing decisions made the film feel a bit sluggish at times. Michelle Williams, playing Schumer’s boss, gives it her best, and while her funny just wasn’t really on for me, it may have been her annoying high-pitched voice that made it feel too pushy and therefore completely made her performance miss the mark. A personal fan of Busy Phillips since her Dawson’s Creek days, I found it a bit awkward that they tried to “uglify” her for the role. While it took me a second to recognize her as a brunette, ugly she was not. Not even close.
When compared to other ‘mistaken identify’ comedy classics like Big or Shallow Hal, I Feel Pretty mostly misses the mark. However, its message of positive thinking and standing up for yourself are definitely worth celebrating and one Amy Schumer really delivers. While none of this may be remotely realistic, staying true to yourself shouldn’t be the type of message worth banging our heads over.