Synopsis – A woman struggling with insecurity wakes from a fall believing she is the most beautiful and capable woman on the planet. Her new confidence empowers her to live fearlessly, but what happens when she realizes her appearance never changed?
My Take – Honestly, I have never been much of fan of Amy Schumer‘s brand of comedy. While I did find her smash hit, Trainwreck, an alright one time watch, I really did despise her second outing in last year’s flop Snatched. However, something about the trailer of this film from writers/directors Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein clicked with me, mainly as the film throws light on an issue we all face, woman and men (whether you accept it or not) alike – how they looks. In some point of our mundane lives, we have felt a sense of losing confidence all due to the fact about how we looked or spoke in general, and have certainly wished to feel better about ourselves.
While, this film has found itself in middle of controversy due to the severe criticism its plot has received and that its star Amy Schumer is guilty of body shaming, it certainly has done well for itself considering box office numbers. Personally, I felt this film was mostly a straightforward romantic comedy, in the sense it manages to be a fun, accurate, timely portrayal of having self-confidence along with reminder to treat and each other well. Sure, the film had potential to expand its horizons and become something great, but considering the film is coming from the writers of Never Been Kissed, He’s Just Not That Into You and How To Be Single, your average set of rom coms, this mix between Jack Black starrer Shallow Hal and Tom Hanks starrer Big, is a simple fun chick flick, that also aims to be spread a really inspiring and positive message, without hurting anyone’s intentions.
The story follows Renee Barrett (Amy Schumer), who is really unhappy with her life; largely because she thinks that most people have a prejudice against her because of her looks, unlike Mallory (Emily Ratajkowski), a gorgeous woman in her spin class. Working in the secluded online division of Lili LeClaire, a make-up company, she dreams of working in the main office on Park Avenue, but alas, she feels stuck in her dead-end job, in her unremarkable overweight body, with all of her insecurities and practically invisible to everyone but her two best friends, Vivian (Aidy Bryant) and Jane (Busy Philipps).
However, things change when she gets a little too excited by the motivation given by the exuberant leader of her spin class, and falls off her bike, suffering a severe head injury. When she wakes up Renee suddenly begins to believe that she looks as good as a supermodel. Convinced that she’s now thin and beautiful, Renee suddenly gains a confidence that has significant and immediate effects on her life – personally, by meeting Ethan (Rory Scovel), a shy guy who doesn’t understand her apparently exaggerated confidence at first but soon starts falling for her, and professionally, she catches the eye of her boss, Avery LeClaire (Michelle Williams), and finds herself being promoted. With everything falling in place, it seems to Renee that she has finally succeeded, unaware of the actual truth.
Is the story line predictable? Well yes. This is definitely not the first film with a plot where the main character gets to experience life through a completely different perspective, for example, Big, Shallow Hal, 13 Going on 30, Peggy Sue Got Married, Freaky Friday, among others, but still the film feels fresh and brings something new to the table. One component in particular that stands out is the lesson of inner beauty and self-confidence. The film’s strength is its life-affirming, empowering and timely advocacy of self-worth and confidence in (and in spite of) the age of Facebook and Instagram. The film is designed to isolate the importance of believing in oneself and how one can succeed if done right, and in case you go too far, you end up crossing the line to arrogance, becoming the very thing you hated being judged by.
These lessons were fun, structured, and well delivered especially in the final scene, with a writing that actually has fire, fury, and emotional punch to deliver the teachings they wanted to present i.e. beauty and confidence come from the inside, how we talk to ourselves does matter, and stunningly beautiful people too have feelings, struggles and insecurities, true friends call you out when you’re out of line, you don’t have to be good at everything, do what you have to do to feel comfortable in your own skin and then rock it because you are amazing nevertheless, and just because the moral and the medium used to tell it are simple, doesn’t meant that it isn’t a worthwhile message that can be entertaining in the hands of a talented comedian.
Another appealing factor here is the fact that film managed to remain realistic in giving a believable reason for the main vehicle moving the story forward, i.e. for the changed perception of herself the main character goes through, therefore gaining confidence and modifying the way she carries herself. Here, first time directors and co-writers Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein work hard to deliver the type of humor that Amy Schumer fans expect, while also paying respect to the all-important female body image message the film strives to deliver. The bikini contest sequence will be especially effective in generating laughter and praise from her loyalists. Schumer, who’s proud and brave and successful, despite not being a ‘zero-size’ model/actress, gives ‘her some genuine heft.
Although, personally speaking, while I expected the protagonist’s journey to become funnier & also more on the message of believing in one’s self, yet the film never runs out of energy. The lighthearted tone compliments this comedy well & watching Renee take on the world, has moments of true fun, as it uses it the usual formula lightly. With this standard in mind, the film more or less succeeds. The comedy had me chuckling at times, often due to a well-placed quip, or awkward scenario playing out. Yet the most consistent source of laughs came from Ethan. While not focusing solely on girl-meets-boy/falls-in-love/separate/get-back-together, the film manages to fit that all in, with Ethan as a decent foil to Renee. In my opinion, Ethan had the best of the lines in the film, and his reactions to Renee’s behavior always felt appropriate and hilarious. Even his nonverbal comedy hit the mark, the simplistic facial expressions enough to emphasize the shock factors this film brings. Ethan was a major likable factor for the relationship, grounding the ridiculousness the relationship held.
Coming to the performances, there is no denying that this film is Amy Schumer’s show all the way, and the filmmakers completely lean with full confidence on its star to carries the film’s weight. It’s a winning performance that offers laughs and also heart. Also sharing the glory here is Michelle Williams, who is surprisingly hilarious and awesome. In supporting roles, Rory Scovel is also quite effective, while Emily Ratajkowski and Naomi Campbell look ravishing and do well. As Renee’s best friends Busy Philipps and Aidy Bryant are excellent, while Tom Hopper and Adrian Martinez do a fair job too. On the whole, ‘I Feel Pretty‘ is a well-intentioned comedy, which despite its predictability, is sufficiently amusing and positively motivating.
Rated – PG13
Run Time – 110 minutes