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"I FEEL PRETTY"
(2018) (Amy Schumer, Michelle Williams) (PG-13)


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QUICK TAKE:
Comedy: After a bump to the head leads her to believe she looks like a supermodel, a thirty-something woman with low self-esteem and body image issues suddenly exudes unstoppable self-confidence.
PLOT:
Renee Barrett (AMY SCHUMER) is a thirty-something woman with two close friends in Vivian (AIDY BRYANT) and Jane (BUSY PHILIPPS) and works with Mason (ADRIAN MARTINEZ) in the less than glamorous and hidden away online division for the well-known and high-end cosmetics company Lily LeClaire. Renee would love to work in the corporate headquarters as the company's receptionist, but suffers from low self-esteem and body image issues, so much so that she longs for the perks that come along with being uber-attractive and model thin like Mallory (EMILY RATAJKOWSKI), a young woman she barely knows.

She gets that wish -- at least in her mind -- when a blow to the head from a fall during a spinning class results in her believing she suddenly looks like a supermodel despite nothing having changed. Now brimming with self-confidence, she draws the attention of both CEO Avery LeClaire (MICHELLE WILLIAMS) and her brother, Grant (TOM HOPPER), who run the company started by their mother, Lily LeClaire (LAUREN HUTTON), decades ago.

And Renee's self-confidence extends beyond the company as a chance encounter with average guy Ethan (RORY SCOVEL) in a Laundromat results in a romantic relationship between the two. But her personal and professional success comes at the risk of alienating her two best friends and the chance that her bump-to-the-head delusion could end without notice.

OUR TAKE: 4 out of 10
I have no idea how much money is spent worldwide on cosmetics each year, but I'd guess it's easily in the 11-figure range. And while a good chunk of that involves preventative care (sunscreen and such) along with products that deal with physical issues (dry skin, pimples, etc.), much of that revenue stems from people -- the vast majority of which are women -- wanting to change their physical appearance.

All of which makes you wonder how we got to such a point where women aren't happy with their natural looks. After all, most young girls accept how they look, but at some point -- thanks to advertising, movies, TV, magazines and now the Internet -- they eventually bend to societal and peer pressure and start using blush, eyeshadow, lipstick, mascara and more to change their appearance before being seen in public.

Of recent, some watchdog groups and individuals have pointed out the trickery that goes into the image making of advertising models and beauty icons. That ranges from makeup and simple lighting techniques to digital manipulation that removes skin blemishes all of the way up to physically altering faces, body features and more.

Yet, women continue to spend money in hopes of attaining, to some degree, similar looks and many end up suffering from low self-esteem when they feel as if they've failed at that. Such issues are the driving force behind comedian Amy Schumer's latest comedy, "I Feel Pretty."

In it, she plays thirty-something Renee Barrett, an average-looking woman who works in a Chinatown basement providing web-based services for the high-end cosmetics company Lily LeClaire. She longs to work as the receptionist at the Manhattan headquarters, but doesn't feel that she's pretty or slim enough to fit the bill. It also doesn't help that she and her best friends (Aidy Bryant and Busy Philipps) aren't getting any love -- or even views -- on a social dating website.

Thus, after getting inspiration from the Zoltar wish machine clip from the movie "Big," she goes out to a wishing well fountain and deposits her offering. Nothing happens, but the next day during her spin class she accidentally falls off her bike, bumps her head, and suddenly views herself as supermodel hot, including when she looks in the mirror.

Suddenly, her confidence increases, and despite her outward appearance not changing for anyone else, she manages to impress the cosmetic company's CEO (Michelle Williams, doing an initially odd, high-pitched thing with her vocal delivery that's later explained as her source of insecurity). She also draws the attention of that woman's hunky brother (Tom Hopper) and even ends up with a boyfriend (Rory Scovel) who's initially taken aback by her behavior but eventually falls for her candor, confidence, and not giving two you know whats about what anyone thinks of her or her behavior.

As written and directed by the filmmaking duo of Abby Kohn & Marc Silverstein, this offering is something of a cinematic kissing cousin to "Shallow Hal," the 2001 Jack Black comedy where his, natch, shallow character suddenly sees -- thanks to an encounter with Tony "Banana Hands" Robbins -- women's inner beauty rather than only their outward physical appearance. In that film, we got to see Hal's altered skinny view of Gwyneth Paltrow's obese character. Here, we never see Renee's newfound view of herself, and instead only witness her mental and behavioral transformation.

I understand what all involved are going for and applaud the intent, but something feels askew since she only gains confidence when she hallucinates that she looks like a supermodel. Yes, she ultimately becomes superficial (especially in terms of dissing her friends and enjoying the spoils only afforded to the uber-attractive) and learns her various lessons by the time we near the end of the pic's 110-some minute runtime.

But it's odd that a film designed to empower females of all ages to be confident in the way they already are has its protagonist only get there by thinking she's a knockout -- and by landing a job at a cosmetics company that profits by making its customers feel inadequate.

Beyond all of that, there are some laughs to be had (and I liked best the low-key moments between Schumer and Scovel's characters as romance blossoms), but most of the material feels very blandly sitcom-ish rather than inspired and creative.

It easily could and probably should have been a sharper satire on the notions of beauty -- from both female and male perspectives -- and the cosmetics industry in general. Somewhat of a missed opportunity, "I Feel Pretty" isn't horrible, but it could have been so much better, funnier and more insightful than it is It rates as a 4 out of 10.




Reviewed April 16, 2018 / Posted April 20, 2018


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