I FEEL PRETTY
Written and Directed by: Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein
Starring: Amy Schumer, Michelle Williams, Rory Scovel, Aidy Bryant, Busy Philipps, Tom Hopper, Adrian Martinez and Lauren Hutton
Running Time: 1h 50min
2 ½ Frames out of 5
By: Shari K. Green
Very few movies make you feel bad for the protagonist of the story and feel horrible about yourself at the same time. ‘I Feel Pretty’ does just that. The beginning of the film especially. Renee Bennett (Schumer) is treated horribly by society. She’s completely shunned. If she walks into a building, she’s treated like a leper. People stare at her as if her fat can instantly leap from her body and infest the entire building… how dare she inhabit their earth! Yes. I can see the point being made. This possibly and most likely is how people who hate themselves, for whatever reason, feel about their body, their face… their selves. It’s heartbreaking. However, this is pushed to the limit where the audience may feel uncomfortable about how the film itself makes them feel as they watch.
It’s as if ‘I Feel Pretty’ is a giant mirror reminding them that they should put the popcorn down and get back to dieting. This being the case, it most likely won’t be entertaining for some. The movie theatre isn’t necessarily the place you need to be reminded of each and every flaw. Again, I see the point, but must it be beaten into the ground? ‘Shallow Hal’ makes this exact storyline work without humiliating and alienating its audience. I was hoping this would be similar to Hal but was quite disappointed in that respect.
But the film redeems itself to an extent when it starts selling the message that it’s not how others perceive you that counts, it’s only how you view you that should ever matter.
Renee is both the protagonist and antagonist in this particular film. What?! Well, she shifts from a kindhearted, fun and friendly person to a lousy, callous pain in the backside in no time flat. What turns her is a journey she takes. While praying that she’ll lose weight, look and feel better, she joins a gym and listens to an instructor who’s a powerful motivational speaker. While listening to her strong words of encouragement, she falls off the exercise bike she’s on (For some reason it can’t hold her weight?!?), hits her head and passes out. When she comes to she sees, not herself, but someone else. She’s healthier, more beautiful but most of all… not fat. She walks around almost the rest of the movie acting like she just won a billion-dollar lottery. She is overly happy with her new lease on life and vows to go get what she wants. And she does just that. Her attitude toward herself also gets her attention, but it isn’t sinking into Renee that she hasn’t changed… she’s still just Renee to everyone else.
Soon, all of her dreams have come true. She has the job she has always wanted, has a boyfriend, even has admirers and her head begins to swell. Not long after, she starts looking at her friends. Suddenly, they’re dragging her down. They’re not dressed well enough and they wear their hair wrong. She wants them to change. Being that the film has been formulaic so far, you can see that a big lesson is coming her way and if she wants to come out of her present situation with only a bruised ego, she needs to realize who she really is.
‘I Feel Pretty’ has sight gags, fat jokes and follows a certain predictable pattern but if you’re a Schumer fan, it’s worth seeing. She hams it up and struts her stuff, clearly, there are no body issues for Schumer as she shows it off a lot. If she ever had issues, she doesn’t now and shouldn’t but this is why the film ultimately doesn’t work. She’s full-figured, yeah, but hardly obese. They’re making fun of how fat she is when she’s, at most, big boned, slightly overweight but is healthy looking. This makes the filmmakers look superficial and tasteless. No. It’s not lost on us that Renee needs to see what everyone else sees but therein lies the rub. They show people, adults mind you, getting both repulsed by the sight of her for her ugly, cellulite ridden, flabby body and yet want you believing that everyone sees this beautiful person within her. The filmmakers can’t have it both ways.
That notwithstanding, Schumer was great, especially when she joins a bikini contest. She holds nothing back. Michelle Williams was very fun to watch as Avery LeClaire, an incredibly hollow human being who ends up being exactly what Renee needs to see that everyone has flaws, no matter how perfect we think they are. All the performances were strong but the movie, outside of a few laughs and a good message, wasn’t as good as it could have been. I feel they were headed in the right direction but got lost along the way. Maybe they should have spent less time writing ways to make fun of fat chicks. That would have been a good start.