For years now, women in film been trying to promote messages of self-love and care. One of the more prominent faces of this movement is Amy Schumer. Ever since the release of the critically and commercially successful “Trainwreck,” Schumer has remained popular for her honesty in terms of sexuality and body image, which many people have found empowering.
Schumer tries to tackle this message of inner beauty in her new comedy “I Feel Pretty.” While the film’s heart is in the right place, it fails to bring the laughs or fully consider the implications of its premise to make this an interesting or inspiring movie.
The biggest problem with the film is Schumer, more specifically it’s how she plays her character Renee. In the beginning she is obsessed with looking like the models she sees in magazines, leading to her self-consciousness and lack of confidence.
When she bangs her head after falling off an exercise bicycle, Renee sees herself as one of the models she aspires to be, when in reality she still looks the same as she always has. From here, most of the comedy centers around Schumer confidently interacting with people, who respond with mean-spirited looks and comments.
This premise is meant to parody transformation movies like “Freaky Friday” or “Big,” the latter of which actually inspires her wish to be beautiful. The problem is that Renee is such an obnoxious person, which makes it hard to watch any scene in which she overconfidently flaunts her looks.
Most scenes involve Schumer talking an awkwardly long time, hiding her annoying behaviour behind her newfound confidence. These moments go on for so long they soon become grating. It was clear Schumer and company were halfheartedly ad-libbing instead of working with a fully fleshed-out script.
This makes it difficult to sympathise with her character, since she and the situations she finds herself in are so unrealistic. Her newfound confidence turns her into a stuck-up rude person, defeating the purpose of the inner-beauty message the film is striving for.
At times, it seems like her rude personality is intentional, playing into the parody of transformation movies. The point could be that Renee is only changed physically, and not mentally or emotionally, but not enough is done with this idea to make it subversive or effective. In the end, it’s clear that the audience was supposed to like Renee from the beginning and feel bad for her when people call her out on her rude behavior.
The only thing that saves “I Feel Pretty” from total obnoxiousness is the supporting cast. While most characters are reduced to simply reacting to Renee’s antics, essentially making fun of Schumer’s supposed ugliness, two supporting characters played by Michelle Williams and Rory Scovel bring some heart and funny moments to the overall dull affair.
Williams runs the fashion company Renee works for, and her bizarrely high-pitched, quiet voice leads to many hilarious moments that I will admit I’m not sure were meant to be intentionally funny.
Scovel, on the other hand, plays Renee’s love-interest, a fairly average guy she meets by assuming he’s flirting with her. Their relationship takes up a bulk of the middle of the film and is genuinely sweet. The strength in these scenes is that Scovel grounds Renee’s character in reality, giving way to Schumer’s skill in comedic banter.
One of their dates is to a seedy bar where a bikini contest is being held. While Renee doesn’t win the competition, she does win the respect and admiration of the crowd. The guy running the contest even tells Scovel’s character that Renee is a real keeper and has a lot going for her beyond looks.
Ironically, this scene does a better job at conveying an inspiring message than anything else in the film. Renee’s character and her antics are so obnoxious that when she has to give an inspiring speech at the end, it falls flat on its face.
While “I Feel Pretty” has good intentions, the generic plot and boring execution mixed with Schumer’s performance and the mean-spirited humor ultimately muddle the message. While it’s difficult for me to say if this film is harmful, I can say it is a waste of two hours.
Sam Goodrich Staff Writer