‘I Feel Pretty’: Amy Schumer stays in her comfort zone in a hit-and-miss comedy
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The Amy Schumer vehicle “I Feel Pretty” is the latest entry in a long line of ridiculous but often quite funny films such as “Big,” “Shallow Hal,” “Freaky Friday,” “13 Going on 30” and “The Changeup,” in which the main character is profoundly unsatisfied with the current state of things — and then experiences some kind of magic moment that changes everything.
(Heck, we could go all the way back to “The Enchanted Cottage,” both the 1945 movie starring Robert Young and Dorothy McGuire and the silent film from 1924, for plot similarities.)
What’s the catalyst? It could be a wish that is somehow, mysteriously granted. Or a lightning strike. Or hypnosis.
Or in the case of “I Feel Pretty,” a blow to the head during an intense SoulCycle class.
Schumer, a top-tier stand-up and comedy sketch artist for the last decade, wrote the screenplay for her feature film lead debut, “Trainwreck” (2015), which was directed by Judd Apatow.
She was sensational. Funny, likable, vulnerable, smart, bold and simply a star.
The pairing of Schumer with Goldie Hawn for last year’s “Snatched” seemed inspired, but the film came across as stale and aimless.
With “I Feel Pretty,” Schumer is doing another slightly tweaked but virtually indistinguishable variation on the same wisecracking, self-deprecating, insecure, if-only-she-could-see-her-wonderfulness underdog she’s played before. She’s clearly in her comfort zone and she eventually wins us over in this uneven, hit-and-miss, broad comedy — but here’s hoping the next time around, she tries something new.
Schumer plays Renee, who works in a dingy, underground, cave-like space, where she does tech support and oversees the online operations for a glamorous and hugely successful cosmetics company headed by the famous Avery LeClaire (Michelle Williams).
This is one of the many elements in “I Feel Pretty” that make no sense. Why would this trendy, massively popular cosmetics giant relegate its online operations to an off-site dump?
Renee is obsessed with one day working at the company headquarters, even if it means applying for a job as a receptionist, which is far below her pay grade and qualifications.
Thing is, there’s little chance of Renee even getting that job, because the receptionists at the company are supermodels in training. “Regular” looking people, such as Renee, need not apply.
Cut to that SoulCycle class, with Renee furiously trying to keep up with the likes of the impossibly perfect Mallory (Emily Ratajkowski), which results in a terrible fall and Renee getting knocked unconscious.
When Renee wakes up, she’s the same person she was prior to the fall — but when she looks in the mirror, she sees physical perfection.
Renee THINKS she’s in one of those body-switching movies, but the only real change is in her self-image. She exudes a level of confidence she’s never known before — and that self-assurance makes her attractive to people who might not have even noticed her in the past.
Michelle Williams, employing a cartoonishly silly, high-pitched voice, and emoting as if she can’t move her facial muscles due to an overload of Botox, tries hard to create a comically successful character in Avery LeClaire, the beloved and famous but oh-so-fragile boss of the company. It’s an uneven and weird performance.
Lauren Hutton is Lily LeClaire, the former supermodel who founded the company and has no confidence in her heirs. Busy Philipps and Aidy Bryant are wonderful as Renee’s longtime best friends, who have no idea why Renee is acting so weird, eventually figure out she thinks she’s super hot — and point out to her that she had a pretty great life before the stupid concussion. Good job, loyal friends who never gave a hoot about her looks, guys who found her attractive … so why is she being a superficial jerk now?
Some writers and commentators have passed judgment on “I Feel Pretty” based on the trailer. (Apparently they didn’t see the irony and hypocrisy in condemning something based on a superficial first impression.)
“Amy Schumer’s latest ‘body-positive’ film ‘I Feel Pretty’ seems so offensive and morbid it’s frankly exhausting,” was the opening salvo from a writer for the Independent, who admitted her condemnation was based on watching the trailer.
Respectful suggestion: See a movie before tearing it apart. See where the journey takes you.
In the case of “I Feel Pretty,” as corny and contrived as the final scenes are, you might actually applaud the message.
If not, at least you’ll have the proper and fair ammunition to back up your argument.
STXfilms presents a film written and directed by Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein. Rated PG-13 (for sexual content, some partial nudity, and language). Running time: 107 minutes. Opens Friday at local theaters.