I Feel Pretty

2018-05-04 07:43

What it's about:

An ordinary woman who struggles with feelings of insecurity and inadequacy on a daily basis wakes from a fall believing that she is suddenly the most beautiful and capable woman on the planet. With this newfound confidence, she is empowered to live her life fearlessly and flawlessly, but what will happen when she realises that her appearance never changed?

What we thought:

While I Feel Pretty probably had lofty ambitions to take on society’s interpretation of what ‘beauty’ is, the execution left you feeling like you’re watching just a more updated version of Shallow Hal – a film hated for its fat shaming where Jack Black gets hypnotised to find all ‘ugly’ women attractive and ends up falling for a ‘large’ girl that’s just Gwyneth Paltrow in a fat suit. These kinds of movies try to show it’s all about ‘the inside that counts’, but doesn’t seem to understand that people rather want a film that shows beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, instead of the message that people fall in love ‘despite’ their looks.

I Feel Pretty looks at what would happen if a woman thought she was undeniably pretty, and tries to show off that confidence is key to showing off your inner beauty, but it loses this in moments where the lead’s surrounding characters act as if she’s insane for thinking she’s beautiful, and that’s where the whole movie becomes contrived.

Renee (Amy Schumer) is obsessed with being undeniably pretty, and believes that it would solve all her problems in life. She hits her head while at a gym class and wakes up believing she’s transformed into a gorgeous woman. This confidence boost leads her to pursue her dream job (secretary???) at a makeup company headed by Avery (Michelle Williams) who is trying to launch a line for Walmart. She also starts dating Ethan (Rory Scovel), a man haunted by his own insecurities.

It’s sad to see Schumer follow up such a hilarious and honest movie like Trainwreck with this banal, cringy movie that honestly no one really wanted. Most women would be offended by this, and I don’t see cis men that interested in a movie marketed as ‘women empowerment’.

It is funny at times and Schumer remains a good role model for being comfortable in your own skin, but it feels like half of the movie was written by a woman and the other half a man, losing focus on the core message. Interestingly, it was written and directed by a man and woman duo – Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein – and it seems their differing experiences clashed somewhere and came up with a blander version of the what could have been a thought-provoking movie.  

One thing I do applaud the movie for is that it doesn’t put other women down in its journey to self-acceptance. You may think there would be some hot top model person cast as the antagonist to Schumer’s character, but instead it aims to humanise people perceived as absolutely beautiful and show that everyone has insecurities about themselves.

Mostly everyone is nice to Renee, until she predictably turns into a snob herself, but unfortunately this is undercut by the look of ‘is this girl crazy?’ every time Renee is confident about her own looks. If the movie really wanted to go all out it could have made everyone accept Renee’s confidence without question and focused more on how her lack of confidence before was all in her head.

I Feel Pretty is just not a great way to go about fostering body positivity in women, as if believing you’re undeniably beautiful will fix everything in your life. If this movie came out in the early 2000s, around the same time Shallow Hal came out, it might have hit its mark and been a controversial comedy for its time. However, today the majority of the audience already has a keen awareness of how society portrays women in media, and we don’t really need Schumer to tell us that we’re all gorgeous.

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