What does ‘pretty’ actually look like?
Review: I Feel Pretty
Starring Amy Schumer, Rory Scovel, Michelle Williams, Aidy Bryant, Busy Phillips, Emily Ratajkowski, Naomi Campbell
Written and Directed by Abby Kohn and Mark Silverstein
Don’t let I Feel Pretty’s trailer or marketing fool you. It’s actually a good film.
When I Feel Pretty’s was announced, the ensuing backlash to the film centered on the idea that it was ripping off Jack Black’s Shallow Hal: a film where Black sees the obese woman he is dating by her inner beauty.
Another criticism of I Feel Pretty, offered in Cosmopolitan magazine, ran with the idea that the film is guilty of body shaming, suggesting that the film is “insulting to anyone and everyone — from Amy herself all the way to women that are larger, less able-bodied…AKA, all the things that are promoted in society to be ‘better.”
I Feel Pretty’s message is not clear from the film’s trailer or a brief description of its plotline and it’s worth bearing with these in order to get to the point that it can speak on its own terms.
Schumer plays Renee, a woman who works in the online department of a major makeup label. Wanting to make her way into the main office surrounded by models, she manages to get an accidental shot of confidence when a head injury leaves her with an unlimited supply of confidence in her looks.
The idea that Renee is more confident than her looks warrant seems to be I Feel Pretty’s comedic premise, but this is against the film’s intent. I Feel Pretty’s script also makes some great points about confidence and self-acceptance, with a speech that Renee gives towards the end marking the high point of this.
In an interview with Vulture, Schumer touched upon the film’s backlash, and its misunderstood message.
…[I]t’s not about an ugly troll becoming beautiful, it’s about a woman who has low self-esteem finding some. Everyone’s got a right to feel that feeling, regardless of their appearance. We all struggle with self-esteem. I certainly have. Your friends who you think are so beautiful, they could be struggling too. You want them to see themselves the way you see them, but it’s not our place to say who should be allowed to have low self-esteem.
I Feel Pretty’s cast delivers on its premise with great performances. Schumer delivers her best performance since 2015’s Trainwreck and Michelle Williams is particularly hilarious as Amy’s insecure cosmetics company boss Avery LeClaire.
I Feel Pretty is rated M and is now showing in cinemas.
Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor