Amy Schumer’s new movie, I Feel Pretty, isn’t a trainwreck, and that’s good and bad. It’s not a trainwreck as in being terrible, unfunny, and impossible to watch. But it’s also not nearly as good, funny, and a joy to watch as her hit movie Trainwreck.
The movie has a message, and gets its point across. But it’s an almost movie. It almost hits you over the head with the message, but not quite (which is good!). It almost makes you laugh hard, but not quite (which is bad). It’s almost a trainwreck. And it’s almost a Trainwreck.
“I’m Beautiful!” -Renee
In I Feel Pretty, Amy plays Renee, a girl with self-esteem issues that weigh down her self-confidence to the point where she wishes she could be demoted from her web job at a cosmetics company and become the receptionist at their headquarters. Then, in a plot twist brazenly lifted from the movie Big, she concusses herself at Soulcycle to the point that she sees herself as a beautiful woman, which in turn has her brimming with self-confidence.
Of course, she still looks the same to the rest of the world, but she meets all her goals because she believes in herself. The message is clear. The comedy is intermittent.
Let’s Get Physical
Amy embraces physical comedy in a way she never has before. From working it at a bikini contest, to picking her nose outside her boyfriend’s apartment, to a second accident at Soulcycle (honestly, this movie does Soulcycle no favors), she literally throws herself into her work.
The bikini contest, a club she never thought she would join and ends up embracing her, hits home. The Soulcycle bits and subsequent fallout in the locker room feel contrived. Necessary to the plot, but contrived nonetheless.
Physical comedy is best when it surprises a viewer. The stunts in this movie don’t quite reach that threshold.
Amy Schumer’s all about embracing herself as-is. She did a bit in a Netflix special about how she hates being called “brave” for posing in revealing clothes. So I Feel Pretty is a very natural fit for Amy. We know she’s had body issues because we’ve all had body issues. I Feel Pretty looks to take the phrase “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and make sure that you are the one beholding.
Of course this follows the predictable progression of how she loses everything that made her awesome to begin with (ditching her friends, ignoring older, less hip & cool guests at work). And the ending brings it all full circle. But through it all, we genuinely like Renee. Her character never gets ugly and stays relatable.
This movie could have been a boo hoo pity party for Renee and friends, while villainizing the “beautiful people.” But it’s inclusive in its insecurities. The model at the gym gets dumped. The beautiful and ditzy-voiced cosmetic executive went to Wharton School of Business but isn’t taken seriously. Everyone has issues, and Amy generously lets Renee be judgemental of them to get the point across.
I’m Every Woman
Yet despite all its flaws of predictability and comedic-ish stunts, this movie still resonates. I Feel Pretty is about confidence. It’s about being true. It’s about treating Vogue like a monthly work of fiction.
Young women are loving this movie. Women under 25 are giving it an A CinemaScore while women under 18 give it an A+. They powered it to a strong opening weekend of $16 million dollars, beating expectations.
Someone is finally speaking directly to them. Finally there is a movie that looks at an average person with an average body and average skills who sees themselves reflected back from the screen. Renee’s problems are their problems. Renee’s insecurities are their insecurities. Renee is Everywoman.
The Critic’s Cocktail Recommendation
Renee’s most reliable companion in the movie: Jose’. As in Jose Cuervo. Any time she’s out on the town with the girls she’s ordering shots of tequila. So lick your wrist, pour the salt and squeeze the lime, we’re throwing back shots!