Courtesy of STX Films
Let the record show that Amy Schumer is very funny. The things she does with her facial expressions and her delicate timing are admirable traits. That’s half the reason “Trainwreck” was such a welcome treat a few years back. The other half was due to a script that knew its own whims, and charms without exploiting them. Her latest, “I Feel Pretty” has received some backlash in the media for “body shaming” and I read that and lost hope for humanity. You’d have to be near brain dead to not understand what the movie is trying to tackle. Unfortunately, that might actually apply to the filmmakers, because they also don’t know the message they want to send.
Taking a step back from her usual entourage of R rated sex jokes, Schumer ditches the foul mouth in favor of soul I think? Either way, she plays Renee, a web designer for a cosmetic company, struggling daily with her own insecurities. She wants to be like the models you see on TV or in the ads for the company she works for. She attends weekly bicycle classes in order to obtain the figure needed for external happiness but always feels ashamed when glancing around at the other “undeniably pretty” women in the room. She goes out her with her friends (Aidy Bryant and Busy Phillips) looking for busty guys via a dating app called “Grouper-date,” but never elevates anything forward because of her looks. It also needs to be noted that almost every character in this movie loves to body shame and comment on Schumer's appearance. Including patrons at a drug store who think she works there; how many times have we seen that joke before?
After Renee falls and clunks her head during a workout session, she awakens with a bruise and a new outlook on her appearance. Unlike “Shallow Hal” there’s no double vision going on here, it's like an abstract “ Freaky Friday” except, there’s no body swapping. Renee is in love with herself and finally has the confidence to achieve higher goals: like asking out the cute guy at the dry cleaners, or applying for a receptionist position within the cosmetic company. But instead of truly becoming herself and understanding what self-love is all about, her character actually gets rather annoying. Almost like she completely doesn’t understand her own insecurities from before. In fact, one scene involves model/actress Emily Ratajkowski saying that she, too, suffers from insecurities. Rather than comfort her, and try to help - Schumer’s character yells “I’m going to punch you in the face.” So instead of fighting the insecurity, “I Feel Pretty” just reinforces them.
Renee also forgets about her friends, often leaving them for her new found life of glamour (so that’s what self-love is? Leaving your friends behind? Interesting.) “I Feel Pretty” constantly upset me because it never sets a bar, it doesn’t aim for anything. The main character abandons her own morals and makes her look silly. I understand the need for positivity, but when she constantly tells her friends to “be hotter” - that rubbed me the wrong way. Even Michelle Williams (in a rare comedic turn) can’t save face as a squeaky-voiced CEO that, wouldn't you know it, has an insecurity. It also should be fair to know, the movie has entire stretches with laughless air. I was starving for a laugh and all I got was mean-spirited jabs towards Schumer's appearance.
In the end, a lesson is learned about the fundamentals of self-care, but it comes across as muffled and confusing. Writer and directors Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein had success with “How To Be Single” because they captured the spirit of being in love with yourself, and those around you. “I Feel Pretty” only cares about the idea and not the whole picture. For as likable as Schumer is, it’s frustrating that for every step forward she takes, her movie takes three steps back.
Rated PG13 for sexual content, some partial nudity, and language
Run-time: 1 hr. And 50 minutes.