The Winonan

Film in review: “I Feel Pretty”

Blake Gasner, Features Reporter

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Amy Schumer, in her third leading role of her newfound film career, stars as the protagonist, Renee Barrett, a shy woman who believes all her problems stem from her looks. Unhappy with her appearance, she lacks the confidence to follow through on a better job or a healthy relationship. After suffering a head injury at a SoulCycle class, she awakens thinking she now looks stunningly beautiful and that her wish has been granted, even though her appearance to everyone else looks exactly the same. With her newfound confidence, she starts living the life she’s always wanted, dating sweet guy Ethan (Rory Scovel) and pursuing a job as a receptionist at her cosmetics company underneath chairwoman Avery LeClaire (Michelle Williams) whom she exhibits great admiration towards.

Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein, longtime comedic writers, made their directorial debut with “I Feel Pretty.” The truth is the movie has good intentions, it’s also true, however, that “I Feel Pretty” doesn’t quite nail these intentions itself. Hoping to inspire confidence amongst females in a society that is very damaging to people’s perceptions of their own body images, the film is remarkably shallow at times when depicting Schumer herself. In one scene following the explosion of her self-confidence, Schumer now has the confidence to have sex with Scovel’s character, Ethan, a situation played completely for laughs. Although the film manages a light-hearted tone throughout, this scene sends the message that it should be humorous for a woman to be confident with a man, who in the case of Ethan, demonstrates complete interest in her. This and several other jokes land miserably away from the tight-rope-balancing-act of good taste.

Although cringe-inducing in instances when the humor dilapidates, the film still manages to maintain a convincing level of charm, especially between Schumer and Scovel, who’s relationship is full of chemistry and heart. Whether bouncing jokes off each other or expressing genuine care for one another, the relationship here works. This is a rare and hard-to-achieve quality for the standard comedy, a major win for “I Feel Pretty.” Another rare and hard-to-achieve quality in standard comedies, however, is depth and this is where the film stutters to a halt.

Here’s the deal. This film was in possession of a HEFTY amount of potential. Schumer already flexed her acting chops in her 2015 breakout performance, “Trainwreck.” The overall message driving the story is astoundingly important today, as well. These two factors combined justify “I Feel Pretty” as a tremendous vehicle for Schumer to take over and dive into the culture we’ve created regarding beauty. What “I Feel Pretty” does, however, is offer a simple and rather bland solution to the protagonist’s issues…more confidence. This solution is certainly true to an extent, but it offers no depth or subtlety regarding what makes someone beautiful in our culture. Schumer’s character simply turns around, becomes confident, maybe a little TOO confident, tones it back down again, and then BOOM, problem solved, roll credits.

It is a general conception in the film landscape today that comedies ONLY need to make you laugh. “I Feel Pretty” does that at times, but what must be recognized is comedies can do so much more. They can channel our emotions with laughter, win us over with hypnotic charisma AND, also, even show us something profound about our world. “I Feel Pretty” could’ve done this but rather decides to play it safe and offer audiences a pleasant but often lazy story. This is its major downfall. Aside from that though, the film does manage to tell a sweet tale about self-confidence and taking-action, making an endearing and pleasant time at the movies.

Consensus: If in the mood for a simple but sweet comedy about inner beauty and confidence, “I Fell Pretty” is the movie for you. 2.5/5

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Film in review: “I Feel Pretty”