I Feel Pretty is like one of those bouquets of silk flowers you sometimes see in restaurants and hotels: passable but no substitute for the real thing.
In this instance we have what is tantamount to a sitcom pilot parading as a full-blown, mainstream movie. The acting is largely good, the scriptwriting is satisfactory, the direction is a bit wobbly in places, while the plot…
The plot is weaker than Kanye’s grip on social history.
There is no need for spoiler alerts on this occasion because the story is so predictable and formulaic that an algorithm produced by a not-very-technical fifth grader could have conceived it.
Renee Bennett (Amy Schumer) works in a dreary downtown basement office for Lily LeClair, an upmarket cosmetics company with a snazzy HQ on Fifth Avenue. It makes products aimed at so-called “undeniably beautiful” woman, such as supermodels and their like; a band of sisters to which the insecure Renee believes she does not belong.
That’s the set up.
Then one day she bumps her head and believes she too has become “undeniably beautiful” although she looks just the same. And so, with this age-old ‘blind spot’ comedy device driving the story, we set sail on our hackneyed journey of dreams coming true, falling in love, the inevitable reality check, which culminates in a… I’ll leave you to guess how it ends (yes, you’re right).
As parables go it is more Beano than Biblical.
Celebrate your individuality, believe in yourself; dare to be different and so on: all standard tropes for our self-obsessed age.
It’s a shame it is so lame. Because Schumer is a class act, as are several other members of the cast.
Michelle Williams hams it up wonderfully well as Lily LeClair’s CEO with a squeaky voice and the world’s largest twinkle in her eye.
Rory Scovel gives a suitably dialled down performance as Renee’s love interest allowing Schumer to crank up the physical comedy (at which she is very very good) to wince-inducing levels.
And there are welcome cameos from Naomi Campbell and Lauren Hutton as corporate players.
The greatest shame, though, is how the movie misses the chance to really skewer the serious issue it attempts to address, namely the debilitating and isolating mental health conditions such as body dysmorphia, low self-esteem, social anxiety, and depression, which are made significantly worse by the relentless objectification of women by the media and business.
In fact, bafflingly, the film ends up pandering to exactly the same fascistic thinking that promotes the fallacy only people with a certain body type will be successful and admired.
Renee’s validation ultimately does not come from within, but from a condescending man and a female boss who uses her to flog a mass-market line of products because Miss LeClair is far too “undeniably beautiful” and “successful” to understand those plebs who shop in the bargain basement.
What a waste of Amy Schumer’s comic talent, which has been honed over the years by stand-up routines that take down exactly the sort of myopic prejudice about physical appearance that I Feel Pretty takes aim at but misses.
If you are having a quiet night in and want to pass 106 minutes watching a lightly amusing rom-com because you’ve seen every episode of Friends 20 times, then you could do worse than I Feel Pretty.
It’s not that bad.
But if you’re heading for a night out at the movies, give it a swerve and go see Tully instead.