I Feel Pretty (NC16)
Starring Amy Schumer, Rory Scovel, Michelle Williams
Directed by Abby Kohn & Marc Silverstein
Amy Schumer plays Renee, a young lady stuck in a soul-sucking job for a cosmetic company from a dingy basement office. (Not exactly sure what she does there, I think it’s a cross between tech support and data crunching.) She’s a bit on the curvy side but isn’t unattractive. Yet she’s shy and introvert, and has serious self-esteem issues. She wants what every social outsider wants: to be drop dead gorgeous and the centre of attention.
One day, she gets her wish: she gets knock out cold in a freak spin class accident, and wakes up a different person… someone who’s drop dead gorgeous. If you’ve only just seen the trailer, it’s understandable why some folks are accusing the movie, by long-time writing duo and first-time directors Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein, of body-shaming.
But here’s the thing, Renee doesn’t go through any instantaneous physical transformation; all the makeover is internal, inside her head. Even in her point-of-view shots, all we see in the mirror is the same old Renee. As does the rest of the world, including her BFFs (Saturday Night Live’s Aidy Bryant and Cougar Town’s Busy Philips) and her high-pitched boss (Michelle Williams).
The new Renee is full of confidence, rewired to embrace her imperfections. The ‘believe in yourself’ message is laudable (even though Renee’s newfound poise is acquired through a head trauma) but it got muddled in the end, which takes place at a beauty product launch: So what is intended to be an empowering rallying call became an epic sales pitch.
Elsewhere, the Shallow Hal-meets-The Devil Wears Prada mash-up isn’t as funny it should’ve been. It’s definitely not unfunny (there’s a bikini contest sequence where Renee dances to Jason Derulo’s ‘Swalla’ that’s just bonkers), but coming from Schumer, we expected a little more spunk, insanity and raunchiness.
Everything about I Feel Pretty is laboured and underwhelming. There’s an R-rated movie hidden somewhere dying to pop out but is reined in by its teen-friendly PG-13 rating (it’s certified NC16 here because of an unbelievably mild sex scene). Maybe I can see that version if I hit my head hard enough against the wall. (**1/2)