I FEEL PRETTY
Writers/Directors: Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein
Starring: Amy Schumer, Michelle Williams, Busy Phillips, Aidy Bryant, Rory Scovel, Lauren Hutton, Emily Ratajkowski, Sasheer Zamata, Naomi Campbell
In I Feel Pretty, Amy Schumer starts to feel pretty down on her luck. As Renee, she doesn’t look like any of the other pretty girls at soul cycle and oftentimes gets mistaken for a man. She works for Lily LeClaire, one of the most prestigious cosmetics in the world. That being said, her position is pretty low on the totem pole sequestering her office to a tiny basement space far removed from the fancy corporate office. At her most recent trip to soul cycle she decides to take a positive approach to exercise heeding the instructor’s advice as the class starts spinning. Renee gets going a little too fast to the point off falling off her bike and hitting her hand on the wheel. She comes to after being knocked out, and sees the gorgeous, skinny version of herself in the mirror. This newfound confidence and body positivity is all in her head as a result of the injury. Her friends, Jane (Phillips) and Vivian (Bryant), don’t see Renee’s new body type like she does. It’s all a shock to Renee, but as she settles into what she thinks she looks like, she starts approaching life with her head up ready to conquer the world. She applies for the receptionist job at Lily LeClaire beating out the usual model types hoping for their way into the company. Four-time Oscar nominee Michelle Williams plays Lily LeClaire CEO Avery LeClaire and loves Renee’s confidence. She believes her “real girl” personality could be just what the company needs for their new Target line of cosmetics.
There’s a brand and image associated with Amy Schumer that aligned with her previous film Trainwreck. It made her a household name for those unfamiliar with her stand up comedy or Inside Amy Schumer television series. She’s the kind of comic who put social norms aside and presented a public image of being vulgar, crass, and sex-crazed. Don’t get me wrong, as I have no problems with her comedy or brand. I’m purely making a point as we see a different side of Schumer in I Feel Pretty. Either the character of Renee was written with Schumer in mind or she knows how to bring this other side of herself to the role. The character allows Schumer to go off brand and continue to prove her strengths as an actress. Yes, she gets to do some physical comedy gags that come with cringe-worthy moments, but Renee is vulnerable and has those raw moments that we can relate to when we look in the mirror, feel judged in public, or feel down on our luck. It’s a fresh and welcome return for Schumer and will hopefully showcase her in a new light for audiences.
While it’s always fun to see Schumer on screen, one of the biggest takeaways in I Feel Pretty is Michelle Williams. She rarely does comedy and her performance is lightyears away from the traditional gut-wrenching performances we’ve seen from her in movies like: Manchester by the Sea, Blue Valentine or last year’s All the Money in the World. She adapts this high-pitched, soft, baby voice, yet never makes her a caricature. She has such deadpan delivery stealing every scene she’s in. Williams makes her character more than the stereotype we would associate with that voice and the position she has within the company. Frankly, I could have used more of her character to further the point of the film. Williams’ best friend and Dawson’s Creek co-star Busy Phillips also appears alongside Aidy Bryant (Saturday Night Live) as Renee’s two best gal pals.
I Feel Pretty is written and directed by Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein, the team behind such movies as How to Be Single, The Vow, and Never Been Kissed to name a few. This film could have gone the usual gross out route, but they understand that character discovery and Renee’s battle with self-confidence comes first over cheap laughs. The film’s message of finding your true inner beauty, confidence, and overall body positivity always rings true and can be powerful for many moviegoers. The film asks us how to find and accept ourselves the way that others see and view us. Kohn and Silverstein bring that out with the film’s casting and how they’ve written these characters.
The overall messages and performances help save the film when you realize the story’s trajectory is somewhat lacking in originality. There’s a The Devil Wears Prada vibe to it minus a devilishly wicked Meryl Streep performance. Renee’s mental Cinderella makeover launches her into this new job, lifestyle, and a new boyfriend played by Rory Scovel. The boyfriend subplot may seem superfluous to some, but they make it work by making him an attainable, boy next-door type, not the typical sexy stud we often see in rom-coms. The story starts to drag about halfway through as you realize that the head injury will have to reverse itself at some point. Her actions have consequences on her friends and relationships much like they did the Anne Hathaway character in Prada. I sat waiting for it to all come crashing down on Renee, literally and figuratively, knowing that her rebound will make or break the movie. I was curious to see how it would all pan out. In true Hollywood style, it comes with a grand leap of faith and public proclamation that would never actually happen in reality.
Schumer’s latest will resonate for people, like myself, who have gone through struggles of acceptance and body confidence. It’s a hard road but this movie provides an easy voice and accessible message. In a way, it’s an anti-Kardashian lifestyle that should inspire young girls, teens, or working adults who need to love every part of themselves and let their true beauty shine for all to see.
Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies? Sweet, funny, and touching showcasing a new side of Amy Schumer
RATING: 3.5 out of 5 TICKET STUBS