The average woman is said to criticise herself around eight times each day. It is in this headspace and society that a rom-com like I Feel Pretty exists. The film had the best of intentions and tries to tackle some complex topics like how hard we women can be on ourselves and the feelings of being racked by self-doubt and self-criticism. It does this in a light way but its plodding nature and problems with its execution often mean that the opposite point is made instead of the one that it was always trying to make.
This film stars Amy Schumer as Renee Bennett. The character’s back-story could have been developed a little more but what we are shown is that she is a schlub who has a dead-end job working for a large cosmetics company in a dingy basement. Bennett is consistently viewed as some kind of ugly and fat character and her image even reduces a baby to tears in one scene. This is despite the fact that Schumer is a blonde woman with a normal and rather healthy sized body.
The premise goes that Bennett is so dissatisfied with her life that she decides to make a wish in a scene that references the movie, Big. But rather than dream to be large, Bennett’s goal is to become beautiful. After an unfortunate accident at a spin class called Soul Cycle where she whacks her head quite badly, Bennett starts to believe her wish has been granted. Bennett is now a confident woman who believes that she is stunning.
Schumer’s appearance doesn’t actually physically change in this film. There are some superficial differences in the clothing, hair and makeup but essentially she’s the same old Renee on the outside from start to finish. Somehow Renee convinces herself that her two girlfriends (Busy Philipps and Aidy Bryant in little more than bit parts) can also see their friend’s newfound beauty even though the change is nothing more than a more positive and confident outlook. The notion that a woman can only find esteem and confidence after a traumatic head injury will leave a bad taste in many viewers’ mouths.
The confident Renee decides that she is now worthy enough to go for a job as a receptionist at her cosmetics company employer, LeClaire (it’s actually a step backwards but Renee covets this flashy, customer-facing role in their glitzy headquarters.) Also working at head office of the company are its founder, the straight-talking Lily LeClaire (Lauren Hutton) and her ridiculously out-of-touch and pretty granddaughter Avery (Michelle Williams who puts on a grating squeaky/babyish voice for the entire film.)
There is also a love interest in this story. Rory Scovel plays the affable and effeminate Ethan, a nerdy bloke that Bennett picks up at her local drycleaner. Emily Ratajkowski also appears in this film as a gorgeous model who trains at Bennett’s gym and shows this average joe that beautiful people can have problems too. Model, Naomi Campbell also makes a cameo.
This film is written and directed by Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein who penned the scripts for the films, He’s Just Not That Into You and How To Be Single, among others. There are some interesting jokes and hijinks in I Feel Pretty but the plot is far too predictable and employs too many over-used tropes. It will be enjoyed by audiences who are fans of Schumer’s and who can suspend their disbelief and try not to think too hard about the underlying messages here. They won’t be getting Schumer’s brand of subversive comedy but they may enjoy this uneven ride nonetheless.
You get the sense that there is better film itching to be made from the ingredients of I Feel Pretty. The lack of character development, clichéd plot and overly-simplistic treatment of some big issues makes for a rather hollow rendering and a rom-com that is quite hit-and-miss. While Schumer does her best with the source material, I Feel Pretty is proof that beauty is only skin deep.
THREE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Blu-Ray Special Features:
A series of deleted scenes, a gag reel, and a featurette (“Being Pretty”) indicates the Blu-Ray disc is stocked-aplenty, but unfortunately – much like the film – they’re light on substance.
The handful of deleted scenes range from slight extensions of sequences already in the film (Renee’s rapport with her model-like co-workers is given the briefest of look-ins) to understandable omissions (Renee placing her faith in a fortune cookie), whilst the gag reel evokes light giggles – mainly from Michelle Williams clearly enjoying her airhead character’s quirks.
The “Being Pretty” featurette proves the disc’s largest time waster though, with the supposed informative piece lasting literal seconds and flashing the briefest of snippets of cast members Amy Schumer, Aidy Bryant, Busy Phillips and Emily Ratajkowski sprouting promo-worthy phrases about the film’s empowering message.
TWO STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
I Feel Pretty is available on DVD, Blu-Ray and Digital Release now.
Feature Review by Natalie Salvo, Features Review by Peter Gray.