In the 2015 comedy Trainwreck, Amy Schumer starred as a woman who wasn’t afraid of being herself. Written by the comedienne, that film focused on a woman who loved celebrating who she was and didn’t want to be defined by other people. Schumer’s new film I Feel Pretty turns the concept around.
The new comedy features Schumer as Renee Bennett, a self-conscious woman who continually doubts herself and believes everyone around her is judging her. She works for a high-end cosmetics company but she’s relegated to a basement-like office. She dreams of being beautiful and working directly for Avery LeClaire (Michelle Williams), the head of the company. During a trip to the gym, Bennett hits her head and wakes up believing that she’s transformed into a beautiful woman.
She thinks she’s changed dramatically and approaches everything with the confidence of a supermodel.
The feature’s premise is simple enough (and it’s been criticized for a seemingly-superficial understanding of beauty). However, viewers who give the film a chance might be pleasantly surprised by its larger motivations.
Writers/directors Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein use the theme to create a bigger narrative about self-confidence and self-esteem. This isn’t just a film about not appreciating your own physical attributes. It’s a film about appreciating friendship and finding the strength in your voice.
But beyond that, it’s a genuinely funny film.
Early on, the laughs are focused on Bennett’s own self-consciousness. From shopping at a store that not-so-subtly encourages her to shop online to her experiences in a spin class, the comedy focuses on people belittling Bennett’s appearance. Later on though, the script finds a better rhythm.
It does so by embracing Bennett’s newfound confidence. Schumer really embraces the concept of the film and takes some self-effacing risks here by letting her character’s self-esteem and superego take center stage. There’s a lot of humor to be found in a woman who thinks her body has completely transformed who is surrounded by people who see she hasn’t changed at all.
It helps that Bennett’s friends in the feature are played by Busy Phillips and Aidy Bryant, two strong performers who know when to play funny scenes straight.
Admittedly, though the standout supporting performance is delivered by Michelle Williams. With a high-pitched voice, the actress really inhabits the role of a successful innovator who shrinks when she’s criticized by her no-nonsense grandmother (played by the delightful Lauren Hutton).
Unlike Trainwreck (2015) or Bridesmaids (2011), I Feel Pretty doesn’t have huge stand-out moments that could make a theater laugh hysterically. What it does offer though is a solid story with laughs tucked away around every corner. There are inevitably some awkward scenes here that could’ve been cut down. However, there are plenty of scenes here that are full of charming and funny one-liners. The plot also moves along nicely, giving plenty of room here for a third act that is pleasantly still packed with humor but also delivers a really touching message to the audience.
Utilizing the comedic talents of a strong cast, directors Kohn and Silverstein do enough with this premise to earn a few well-earned laughs while delivering the feature’s uplifting message.
Review by: John Hanlon