Review: I Feel Pretty

Score: C+

Director: Abby Kohn & Marc Silverstein

Cast: Amy Schumer, Michelle Williams, Rory Scovel, Adrian Martinez

Running Time: 110 Minutes

Rated: PG-13

Like Amy Schumer's character, I Feel Pretty has a lot going for it. But when Renee goes off the rails, so does the movie. It's such a pleasant surprise until then, so this bizarre detour keeps it from being a solid recommendation.

There were so many ways the film could have gone wrong, especially if it came across as phony. While some critics have felt that way, I think the film truly believes in its empowering message. That's not the problem, and neither is Schumer. Her semi-autobiographical Trainwreck was her featured debut, which provided the perfect showcase for her gifts. Snatched was too zany to totally work, but I Feel Pretty is another reminder that she's a comedic force of nature, and a pretty good actress to boot. (There's an early scene where Renee strips down and looks at herself in the mirror, and without a word conveys how disgusted she feels with her own body, a place we've all been. It's so effective it proves Schumer should try more dramas.)

Renee spends her days in a cramped basement office with Mason (Adrian Martinez, given more to do than usual), working on the website for a luxury cosmetics brand. But a rare chance to visit its 5th Avenue headquarters inspires her to apply for a receptionist job, usually reserved for rail-thin models-in-waiting.

Here's where the film walks a tightrope, because while Schumer certainly isn't a Size 0, she's certainly not beyond what society would deem "conventionally attractive." The film makes it work because Renee is imbued with magical self-confidence, but experiences no physical changes. Her determination and positivity are what catch the attention of the CEO (Michelle Williams, who proves she should be doing more comedy) and her strapping brother (Game of Thrones' Tom Hopper).

But the film is at its best when it's developing the relationship between Renee and Ethan (Rory Scovell, rocking the dad bod). Their romance feels authentic, and their chemistry feels genuine.

So when the film sags in its third act, turning Renee into the same vain, condescending woman who would ordinarily dismiss Renee and her friends (Busy Philipps and Aidy Bryant), it feels like an out-of-nowhere plot contrivance. The earnest-if-corny finale would still have its weight, even without suddenly making Renee a villain.

I Feel Pretty is the directorial debut of writing duo Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein, who are clearly showing maturity in their more recent films. 2016's How to Be Single was similarly charming, even if it had some big flaws. But these two efforts are miles beyond the disastrous He's Just Not That into You and the mawkish The Vow. Maybe they'll learn more lessons from I Feel Pretty and their next romantic comedy will make it all work.


About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney
Like many film critics born during and after the 1980s, my hero is Roger Ebert. The man was already the best critic in the nation when he won the Pulitzer in 1975, but his indomitable spirit during and after his recent battle with cancer keeps me coming back to read not only his reviews but his insightful commentary on the everyday. But enough about a guy you know a lot about. I knew I was going to be a film critic—some would say a snob—in middle school, when I had to voraciously defend my position that The Royal Tenenbaums was only a million times better than Adam Sandler’s remake of Mr. Deeds. From then on, I would seek out Wes Anderson’s films and avoid Sandler’s like the plague. Still, I like to think of myself as a populist, and I’ll be just as likely to see the next superhero movie as the next Sundance sensation. The thing I most deplore in a movie is laziness. I’d much rather see movies with big ambitions try and fail than movies with no ambitions succeed at simply existing. I’m also a big advocate of fun-bad movies like The Room and most of Nicolas Cage’s work. In the past, I’ve written for The Dallas Morning News and the North Texas Daily, which I edited for a semester. I also contributed to Dallas-based Pegasus News, which in the circle of life, is now part of The Dallas Morning News, where I got my big break in 2007. Eventually, I’d love to write and talk about film full-time, but until that’s a viable career option, I work as an auditor for Wells Fargo. I hope to one day meet my hero, go to the Toronto International Film Festival, and compete on Jeopardy. Until then, I’m excited to share my love of film with you.

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