I Feel Pretty: Film Review
Cast: Amy Schumer, Michelle Williams, Emily Ratajkowski, Roy Scovel
Director: Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein
You can see what Amy Schumer's self-image I Feel Pretty is trying to do.
A wannabe self-empowerment piece about what lies beneath and how inner beauty and confidence comes from within appears to have noble aims - especially in the ever-growing feminist empowerment times we live in.
But what emerges from the flat, occasionally tedious and definitely overlong I Feel Pretty is a sinking feeling that denying Schumer that bite which helped her skewer perceptions in her comedy show for a downpat traditional rom-com was a seriously bad move and showed those involved had little to no courage of their own convictions.
Schumer plays everywoman Renee, who dreams of working at fashion magazine Lily LeClaire, but who currently resides in their off-site basement in their IT department. Depressed by models which inhabit the gym and a desire to try and change her outward appearance, Renee joins a spin cycle class.
However, after an accident sees her bump her head, she recovers and catching a glimpse of herself in the mirror post-workout wallop, believes herself to be truly beautiful and utterly unbeatable. Imbued with a new-found confidence, Renee sets out for a receptionist job at Lily LeClaire - however, her journey takes an unexpected turn when her self-confidence and forthright opinions are noticed by LeClaire's CEO, Avery (Williams, in a wispy, ethereal and high-pitched Monroe voice).
There are moments to admire in I Feel Pretty.
Certainly, Schumer's relatability to the audience, and the fact she's never shy about showing off a podgy stomach wrapped highly in Spanx and lacking in self-worth proves to be a welcome tonic. Certainly, an early scene where she looks despondently in the mirror at her out of shape form and tears up will hit many a chord.
But where I Feel Pretty goes awry is in its mixed message. (And its potential squandering of the fact that Renee's post-knock change of heart is clearly a breakdown, triggered by depression).
It aims to subvert, telling the world that not everyone at a fashion magazine has to be a supermodel, or that not every guy is the perfect chiselled jaw. It aims to celebrate the nice persona in a time when nice is being ignored and crushed. These are admirable traits - and certainly, Renee's final speech of who we are would clearly have many women punching the sky in relief - were it not for the fact it's part of a make-up product launch.
The inherent problem with the overlong I Feel Pretty is that it's never quite strong enough to dance to its own tune, selling a message that's been told a million times before - and a million times more cleverly. (Any Disney princess movie manages to hit similar highs).
But, as mentioned earlier, the most disappointing thing about I Feel Pretty is crushing and suppressing Amy's acerbic take on life. If she'd been at the script, there would have been a chance of a few more vicious body blows being landed on both the patriarchy and perception.
As it is, I Feel Pretty is content to simply deliver a few paltry light taps to societal perceptions, and proffer some hints at subversion.