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Film Review

I Feel Pretty

Directed by Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein
From: STX Entertainment
Released: 04.20.18
Review by N. Renee Brown | April 19, 2018 at 6:00 PM
by Renee Brown

Basically: A girl with no confidence hits her head and sees herself as the thing she has always wanted to be…pretty.

Disclaimer: I love Amy Schumer, and her legs are a national treasure!

Schumer plays Renee, a girl without any shred of confidence, who:

Uses YouTube to try to master the smokey eye and ends up like a racoon…

…or goes to that exercise class where everyone looks askance. And they don’t have her shoe size.  

…or even tries to get a drink at a bar and is utterly ignored.

Photo: Mark Schäfer/Courtesy of STXfilms - © Motion Picture Artwork 2017 STX Financing, LLC.

But then, by some crazy twist of…okay, okay, she falls off an exercise bike and hits her head. When she wakes up and sees herself in the mirror she freaks out. She’s “pretty.” Renee can’t believe it’s HER in the mirror. She walks out of the gym with a whole new lease on life and all the confidence she needs to get her dream job as a receptionist at Lily LeClair (a high-end makeup manufacturer), and an awesome boyfriend (Rory Scovel). But at some point she stops being sweet, lovable Renee and we see beauty is only skin deep.

Schumer does a great job in this movie. It is amazing how good she looks, but her lowered head and meek voice steals that appeal in the beginning of the film—making her forgettable, a wallflower. Knowing how vivacious Schumer is in reality makes me respect her acting even more. Once she turns “pretty” she’s the usual funny Schumer…and has a few really awesome lines.

Yet, I feel like the script let her down.

Photo: Mark Schäfer/Courtesy of STXfilms - © Motion Picture Artwork 2017 STX Financing, LLC.

Writers/Directors Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein had a great idea and some of the subtle ways they approached it need to be cheered. First, we never see what Schumer sees. We only see how she reacts to her new look. So when she rocks that miniskirt on the first day of her new job we don’t see a model-thin seductress, we see Schumer looking hot as hell and knowing it.

Second, Kohn and Silverstein introduce a wide cast of characters (men and women both!) who have the same kind of confidence issue as Schumer: the boyfriend who wants to turn off the lights during sex, the CEO who hates her voice (Michelle Williams), the model who gets dumped (Emily Ratajkowski)… It is refreshing to see an entire cast having issues and dealing with them, while Schumer (who has had a magical transition from zero to hero in her own mind) starts to lose who she really is. The comparisons between effort vs. luck are awesome, showing us just how much working for something can change who we are on the inside.

And yet, there were some things in this film that had me scratching my head.

Photo: Mark Schäfer/Courtesy of STXfilms - © Motion Picture Artwork 2017 STX Financing, LLC.

We see the model character—who is never given a name—three times during the movie but she never fully becomes a person, we only get to her most superficial problems. She’s just in the right place at the right time to move Schumer to her next plot point. I don’t mind plot devices but OMG we see the same woman three times and she gets NO emotional resolution at the end of the film. ARGH! Just because she is traditionally pretty doesn’t mean she should be ignored. She was dumped by a guy because she was “dumb”…okay then give me a clip of a guy saying she is smart! Give us something to counteract the stereotypes.

The brother of the CEO of Lily LeClair, Grant LeClair (Tom Hopper), is worse. Renee is aware of him as awesome eye candy and when he comes to the office he is instantly impressed with our plucky little heroine. Woot! He seeks out Renee and seems very sweet in a plane scene. Then in that same scene he is portrayed as mooching off his family and later he seems to be manipulating Renee. Then POOF he’s gone. The character is a real waste of screen time. It’s like the writers set him up for a larger impact on the movie and then ran out of time or decided to redirect the plot mid-shoot. There is no real reason for him to exist.

I am so conflicted by this movie! The writers put a lot of effort into the idea—filming and in the casting—and it is an awesome vehicle for Schumer. I Feel Pretty shows she can be versatile but places her firmly in that comedy role we are all so comfortable with. So yeah, the movie deserves a little love, BUT I wish the writers had taken more time with the script and filled out the characters that were just set dressing.

Photo: Mark Schäfer/Courtesy of STXfilms - © Motion Picture Artwork 2017 STX Financing, LLC.

I laughed a little, the guy next to me did too, and one really vocal chick in the back kept telling us when she liked stuff…I just wish we’d all found the same things funny. Being able to laugh along with the people beside you and the character on the screen makes movies like this less awkward. Sadly, we spent more time laughing at Renee’s walk through this world. I won’t say it isn’t worth seeing—it gave me a TON to think about with respect to confidence and the flaws that are only there in the mirror.  

For this movie to be a perfect “love yourself” experience, I Feel Pretty needed one more hard-core pass to make sure we could all laugh at the same things and not feel uncomfortable and that everyone on screen had a full story. BUT isn’t that what the movie is all about? There’s irony in the theme that none of us are really perfect…

In the end: This is a cute date-night movie that boyfriends might be able to enjoy too! You will laugh, you will cringe, you will get to watch Amy Schumer’s amazing legs, and in the end you’ll leave the theater smiling…just don’t expect cinema gold.

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