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| 19 April 2018 | Reply

Written & directed by Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein
Starring Amy Schumer, Michelle Williams, Lauren Hutton, Emily Ratajkowski, Rory Scovel
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar

There’s a really positive, empowering message about being beautiful on the inside at the heart of I Feel Pretty, but just like the patronising title, it’s been marginilised in the name of vacuousness and grossout gags.

Amy Schumer is Renee Bennett, a desperately unhappy woman who only wants to be beautiful, and is prepared to take a pay cut to work her dream job as a receptionist at Lily LeClair cosmetics, run by Lily (Lauren Hutton) and her granddaughter Avery (Michelle Williams). A knock on the head at the gym sees her wake up seeing herself (shades of Shallow Hal) as beautiful and thin as she always wanted to be, which then gives her the confidence to get her dream job, hobnob with supermodels as an equal, and be the person she always wanted to be… until she starts to become as loathsome as some of the people who mistreated her in the past, alienate her old, true friends, and lose track of her true north… until another bump on the head returns her to her unconcussed state, shatters her self-confidence, leading her to run away from the job and new boyfriend Ethan (Rory Scovel) thinking they will not recognise her from the skinny and beautiful woman she thought she was for a spell… until she finally realises she never changed appearance, the only difference was in her attitude. (These aren’t spoilers – every plot point is signposted long, long before it happens with predictable reliability)

From the start of the film cheap laughs are sought – and, embarrassingly found by some in the cinema – in poking fun at Amy Schumer’s body. How hilarious it seems to writers & directors Abby Kohn & Marc Silverstein that a woman with an average figure (Schumer has a couple of extra kilos, as do most of us over twenty, but you’re a shallow scumbag if you think of her as ‘fat’) could enter a bikini contest, or work for a haute couture cosmetics firm, or feel as self confident as a supermodel. One of the biggest mis-steps in the film (and there are plenty) is thinking it would be funny for Schumer to act confident while talking with supermodels Emily Ratajkowski, Naomi Campbell and friends, or hit on by hunky Tom Hopper as Avery’s brother Grant. The problem is, it’s not funny – it’s mean. Schumer shouldn’t need a bump on the head to FEEL pretty – she IS pretty.

Even the moral money shot – Amy Schumer’s Renee’s big payoff speech, which should almost be mandatory study material for every girl, woman, boy and man – is so tainted by vacuous consumerism as to massively detract from its message.

It’s Schumer’s film, of course, and she plays it full of beans – and probably thought she was making a great statement about self belief… actually, I can’t tell if she was SO self-confident that she thought she could pull this off and bring hope to others, or SO insecure that she felt she had to do it to help her feel better about herself – but either way, she’s got it very wrong. This is beautiful, privileged people telling a story about how they think not-beautiful-privileged people should feel beautiful and privileged even if they’re not beautiful or privileged. I Feel Pretty does have a few legitimate laughs (far too few), but half the cinema seemed to be laughing at the mean-spiritedness.

Of the rest of the cast, only Rory Scovel as Renee’s boyfriend shows any true emotional depth – the rest work so hard with the one dimensional writing that they’re practically chewing leather in their scenes.

Redemption for every character, without exception, comes abruptly, as if a lifetime of being teased and put down and feeling insecure and unworthy and all the self-doubt that life can throw at us can be eradicated in the click of a finger. ‘Let them eat cake,’ they may as well have said.

I Feel Pretty isn’t pretty. It’s horrible, shallow, and it has a wayward heart. It THINKS its saying ‘it’s okay if you’re fat and ugly – you’re still a good person, just forget about it and be happy about yourself.’

What it’s actually saying is ‘it’s okay if you’re fat and ugly – you’re still a good person, just forget about it and be happy about yourself but don’t try and fit in with us beautiful, privileged people, because this is how ridiculous you’ll look and everyone will laugh at you.’

What it SHOULD be saying is ‘you’re awesome, every last one of you in your own way, so stop worrying about your looks or your speaking voice or whatever you’re insecure about, focus on your strengths and treat everyone you meet with respect rather than judge them on their looks.’

Category: Movie & Theatre Reviews

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Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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