Director: Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein
(Contains mild spoilers)
If you take into account the reviews on Rotten Tomato (32%), Empire (2/5), Metacritic (47%), IMDB (5.0/10) and many others, it would be fair to say that this film has not set the world on fire. It probably hasn’t even lit a match. But with all these reviews annihilating Amy Schumer’s I Feel Pretty, is it remotely possible that there is someone out there who has enjoyed watching this comedy? Is it possible that these reviews have got it all wrong?
The Storyline/Themes and Ideas - I Feel Pretty follows Renee Bennet (Amy Schumer) being constantly mistreated or looked down upon from others due to her ‘plus-size’ body shape. Due to this, her confidence is at an all time low and so registers for a Spin Cycle Class in the hope to build up her self-esteem. During the class, she violently falls on her head, and once awakened she eventually sees herself in the mirror and sees herself as beautiful, not even recognising her own skin even though she looks exactly the same to those around her (and us the audience). The film explores the ideas of insecurities (both female and male), self-esteem and self-confidence, and the idea that beauty does not always mean automatic happiness which is represented by the character Mallory (Emily Ratajkowsky), a fellow Spin Class participant whose gorgeous looks makes Renee feel superfluous, but in the later stages we find out that Mallory herself has insecurities and problems of her own.
The film also asks the question about where the line is between being confident and being arrogant. After miraculously gaining confidence, Renee’s life starts getting better. She gets a new job, she gets a new boyfriend, Ethan (played by Rory Scovel), and eventually gets a role as Vice President at the cosmetics company she receptions for. But Renee starts treating her friends and others the way that she was badly treated at the start of the film and is quickly ignored and phased out by them. So in the end, Renee questions who she really is and has a revelation that self confidence has always been inside us and that confidence is about being comfortable in our own skin rather than trying to mimic what society believes beauty is. I Feel Pretty has reminisce of What Women Want, Shallow Hal, and Big (which the film references), but still manages to stay fresh and relevant in today’s current political climate.
The Laughs: Regardless of what many reviews say, this film made me smile and laugh. Once Renee believes that her body has miraculously changed for the better, a whole load of misunderstandings take place setting up many comedic situations. In particular, the laundry scene where Ethan asks what her number in the queue is, Renee genuinely believes that he is asking for her phone number and gives it to him. Also the bikini contest scene, where Amy Schumer pulls out all the stops to show off her curvaceous body in a short denim shorts and front tied shirt were hilarious (albeit being slightly cringing).
Amy Schumer: She wasn’t terrible, and it is clear that Schumer gave it her all. But she portrayed the new, highly-confident Renee in such an exaggerated, over-the-top way that it seemed a little contrived compared to the former self. If she just reined her performance in just a little bit, then the protagonist may well have been a little less annoying and a little bit more enjoyable to watch.
Other characters: I wanted to see more screen time with Aidy Bryant, Busy Philipps, Michelle Williams and Tom Hopper. I enjoyed all their performances, but their characters could have added more comedic moments and a bit more substance to the storyline. My biggest criticism is Grant, played by Tom Hopper, whose role confused me a lot. The film seemed to have set up Grant as being the ‘bad guy’. He constantly goaded his sister Avery (Michelle Williams), he seemed to turn up in places where he wasn’t meant to be (on Avery’s airplane, in Renee’s hotel room) and so gave us a suspicion that he was inconspicuously up to something. But in the end the only role he played was to unsuccessfully tempt Renee in having a romantic fling and so was neither really liked nor disliked.
More Oomph to the Storyline: The resolution to climatic problems Renee faced towards the end seemed to have concluded quite quickly. In comparison to Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck, where her character is almost in the same predicament, the resolution took its time to resolve Schumer’s anxieties and family and love issues. By doing so, we truly sympathise with her and understand her doubts and misery. In I Feel Pretty, she wins back her friends so quickly that there was really no emotional impact to her downfalls and sufferings. Also, when Renee did become a ‘bitch’, (she completely mistreated an older lady who turned up at her work and humiliated her friends in front of their dates) she was only one for about five minutes, so again, like Tom Hopper’s character, we neither really disliked her at any point which I think the film wanted us to do.
In all honesty, the film really wasn’t as bad as some reviews portray it to be. Yes, the storyline is so predictable, but some films are not always there to be groundbreaking. Should you spend your money and go see it in the cinema? Probably not. But if you do come across it, you should be pleasantly surprised on how entertaining it is and unlike most rom-coms it is unique in that the storyline and underlining themes is saying something that is actually worth hearing.