I FEEL PRETTY review by Rahul Vedantam – Amy Schumer suddenly feels quite beautiful

I FEEL PRETTY review by Rahul Vedantam – Amy Schumer suddenly feels quite beautiful

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Amy Schumer was everywhere in 2015, having a popular TV show, a huge stand up special, and staring in her first feature film TRAINWRECK. She has moved on from those days, and passing her time of overexposure has made her slightly less talked about, but that’s not to say her career is going anywhere south (she’s hosting SNL in the coming weeks and released another special last year). In fact, she is so big now she no longer must write her own films, with Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein (HOW TO BE SINGLE, HE’S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU) serving as both writers and directors for her newest film. Although I FEEL PRETTY may be right in Schumer’s wheelhouse in terms of themes and message, the PG-13 rating is the first red flag of many on a film that’s not fully developed.

The plot is a clear homage to films of a generation ago, where a single high concept was played for a tight 110 minutes of feel good laughs like BIG and SHALLOW HAL. The twist here is that there is no magic involved. Schumer’s character starts out the film being rejected by bartenders, online dating sites, and being shoved in a Chinatown basement by her makeup company for not fitting the beauty standards required to work there. Her woes as a ‘regular looking’ woman desiring to be beautiful in a world that doesn’t value her are right in Schumer’s comedic specialty, but instead of strong jokes we get a myriad of physical comedy. The opening joke of the film is a ripped-her-pants gag during a SoulCycle class. When she hits her head in said class and wishes in a fountain BIG style, she suddenly believes she has the body of a supermodel. Her newfound confidence allows her to earn a promotion, win over the affection of Ethan (Rory Scovel) and generally improve her life.

As the film nears its end, 10am ABC family wisdom is doled out without irony or depth. We learn that confidence and contentment is the real key to happiness, and when Schumer finds out that her hot SoulCycle buddy Emily Ratajkowski is going through self-esteem issues, it’s a revelation that attractive people are just like us! Again, there is nothing inherently wrong with this simple moral, and addressing all the middle ground that comes with the topic would be silly. Many online have complained that a film in which the plot revolves around making fun of a regular looking woman thinking she’s beautiful is contributing to the problem, but the film itself is toothless. There is a difference between fat shaming and admitting Schumer, in all her physical comedy power stealing the show at a bikini contest is funny. Nevertheless, there needs to be more weight behind the final message for the concept to work.

The reliance on tropes is an unfair criticism for me, as an old school feel-good comedy was likely the exact goal on Kohn and Silverstien. However, the writers go through every cliché without every giving it a tune up to fit their film. You’ll get déjà vu when you see Schumer back in the SoulCycle building prat falling for a second time before you realize that this one is necessary for the plot of her hitting her head, while the first was very different in that she ripped her pants. What the film is lacking is solid one liners and witty remarks to keep the wheels churning as we sit through the feel-good formula, and if the end, it metaphorically falls flat on it’s SoulCycle face.

I FEEL PRETTY opens April 20, 2018

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