Writing partners Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein, best known for box-office rom coms such as Never Been Kissed, He’s Just Not That Into You and How To Be Single, are back, this time behind the camera for the Amy Schumer-starrer I Feel Pretty. And, boy, is this anything but pretty…
Renee (Schumer) is your typical late-20s American woman. She lives in a tiny apartment she can’t afford, works a job she hates, and spends her weekends doing tequila shots with her friends, Jane (Busy Philipps) and Viv (Aidy Bryant). Like everyone else, Renee has her own list of insecurities, especially about her looks, and is desperate to be one of the ‘beautiful people’, notably Mallory (Emily Ratajkowski), a model she meets at an exercise class.
Little does Renee know that her life is about to change. After being involved in a painful accident and knocking herself unconscious, she comes round only to look in the mirror…and not recognise herself. She’s beautiful – her wish came true! Except, not really. Renee looks exactly the same, it’s just that her self-confidence has rocketed, the bump to her head changing the way she sees herself. Sashaying down the streets of New York, Renee impresses everyone around her, helping to bag a boyfriend and then a new role, working as an assistant for make-up mogul Avery LeClaire (Michelle Williams). But how long will Renee’s sunny outlook last for?
Schumer, best known for her self-deprecating humour, carries the film as Renee, if only because she’s good at laughing at herself. Philipps and Bryant are great as her sweet friends, and Williams as the underused, baby-voiced Avery is genius casting. However, looking back over the 110 minute runtime, it’s hard to find anything else to like about I Feel Pretty, despite its good intentions.
A strange mix of Big (which it references, Renee seen watching it one stormy night), The Devil Wears Prada, and Shallow Hal, we’re asked to believe in Renee’s magical accident, and the lessons she learns by the time the credits role. But we don’t – it’s just a clunky, shallow attempt at female empowerment, the message that ‘everyone is beautiful in their own way’ hidden beneath unfunny fat jokes and laughs at the the film’s ‘average women’.
Take, for example, the following scene. On her first date with Ethan (Rory Scovel), Renee drags him to a dingy bar to take part in a bikini competition. Up against a row of Miss America lookalikes, Renee and her newfound confidence take to the stage, the audience chuckling at the ‘big girl’ who even dares to think she has a chance. We’re meant to laugh with them, but why? Because it’s Schumer, who laughs at herself, so it’s okay? No thanks.
After her closing speech about owning your confidence, feeling yourself, and being true to who you are, Renee struggles to accept that she’s landed back in her reality, doubting whether Ethan will stay with her once he finds out what she’s really like. The closer? “You’re the most beautiful girl in the world to me” – she finds validation and ‘acceptance’ in her boyfriend, sickeningly sweet and the total opposite of what we’re supposed to take from the film.
I Feel Pretty is a huge mess of mixed messaging, stilted jokes, and bad slapstick. I understand its good intentions, but sadly it just doesn’t work.
I Feel Pretty is released in UK cinemas on 4th May.