Published Apr 18, 2018I Feel Pretty was clearly made with good intentions: it's a film about body positivity, with a message that it's not your appearance that matters, but your confidence and sense of self-worth. The leadup to the film hasn't been particularly smooth, however; when the trailer arrived back in February, the op-eds quickly followed, with critics arguing that Amy Schumer wasn't the right woman for the role or that the trailer was guilty of body shaming.
Regardless of how you feel about the film's fundamental concept, I Feel Pretty doesn't quite hit the mark — morally or comedically. It features Schumer as Renee, a woman with serious insecurity issues who suffers a head injury and wakes up believing that she has movie star looks. Suddenly empowered, she excels professionally and romantically, before realizing that the physical transformation was only in her mind. The elevator pitch: Shallow Hal, except a woman.
Setting aside the questionable portrayal of brain injuries, it's disappointing that the film often uses its own message as fodder for a cheap gag. During one long scene, Renee enters a bikini contest, the punch line of which is how supposedly silly she looks flaunting her body onstage alongside thinner women. At multiple points throughout the movie, Renee's large food portions are treated as a joke.
These scenes, in which Renee's lack of self-awareness is used for comic effect, take up much of the runtime, meaning that directors Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein don't devote nearly enough attention to developing the plot. In particular, Renee ascent at work happens implausibly fast — I don't care how confident you are, no one has ever been promoted from receptionist to corporate VP simply by making a lone suggestion during a meeting they weren't even invited to.
These flaws certainly aren't Schumer's fault, since she throws her all into the role. The opening scenes in which she struggles with body image are heartbreakingly relatable for anyone who has ever been unhappy with what they see in the mirror. And even though the subsequent scenes of her inflated self-confidence aren't funny, Schumer nearly sells it with her giddy energy, making the whole thing relatively entertaining. Elsewhere, Rory Scovel is immensely likeable and sadly under-utilized as the romantic interest Ethan, while Adrian Martinez is by far the funniest part of the flick in his minor role as the sad sack co-worker Mason. His hilarious poop scene is the highlight, and I write that without a trace of irony.
After all of the criticism heaped on the trailer, don't expect the film to change many minds. On the bright side, it's much better than Shallow Hal.