Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein (director)
03 May 2020 (released)
03 May 2018
Amy Schumer has made it her mission to challenge conventional standards of beauty in her work.
The topic is a running theme throughout her TV series Inside Amy Schumer as well as her movie Trainwreck, and with her new film I Feel Pretty, she has gone one step further and dedicated her entire performance to the subject.
Co-written and directed by Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein, the comedy follows a woman named Renee Bennett, as played by Schumer, who struggles with feelings of insecurity and inadequacy on a daily basis.
Renee runs the website for beauty company Lily LeClaire, and though she has an interest in fashion and a bubbly personality, is relegated to doing her work from the basement of a Chinatown store alongside her sloppy colleague Mason (Adrian Martinez), while the rest of the company's model-like employees are based in a chic office located in the heart of Manhattan.
Feeling depressed about her situation, Renee takes inspiration from the Zoltar scene in 1988 Tom Hanks fantasy movie Big and proceeds to throw a coin in the nearest available fountain and wish that she was conventionally pretty.
The next day, her greatest desire comes true when she suffers a head injury at a SoulCycle class, and immediately gains extreme self-confidence causing her to proclaim her beauty - to the confusion of everyone she meets - including her pals Vivian (Aidy Bryant) and Jane (Busy Philipps) as well as Ethan (Rory Scovel), a quiet guy she chats up at a laundromat.
Somehow, the "new" Renee lands her dream job as a receptionist at Lily LeClaire's headquarters and quickly rises up the ranks of the business, becoming an advisor to Lily herself, as portrayed by Lauren Hutton, and Lily's granddaughter Avery LeClaire (Michelle Williams).
It's gratifying for the audience to see Renee blossoming in an environment ruled by superficiality, and Schumer certainly commits to her characterisation, though there are a number of uneasy aspects with regards to her "transformation".
Firstly, that nobody thinks to get medical help when she hits her head rather severely, and secondly, the odd behaviour that she displays when she re-introduces herself to her long-time friends as if she were an entirely new person. It's also disappointing to see her discard career ambitions, and passion for make-up artistry, so she can take a pay cut in order to work as a receptionist.
In spite of its weak points, Kohn and Silverstein's script puts forward some intriguing ideas, and attempts to assert that all women wrestle with self-confidence issues by introducing fashion model Mallory (Emily Ratajkowski), who can't hold down a boyfriend despite of her beauty, and by giving Barbie doll-like Avery a mousy voice that causes her to feel deeply inadequate.
In all, everything about I Feel Pretty doesn't feel as if it went far enough, from the undercooked plot to the lack of jokes. If there was ever a time to harness Schumer's cutting wit this would have been it, but sadly, this movie is quite simply a hot mess.