I Feel Pretty
dir-scr Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein
prd Nicolas Chartier, McG, Alissa Phillips, Dominic Rustam, Amy Schumer, Mary Viola
with Amy Schumer, Michelle Williams, Rory Scovel, Busy Philipps, Aidy Bryant, Lauren Hutton, Naomi Campbell, Emily Ratajkowski, Tom Hopper, Adrian Martinez, Sasheer Zamata, Caroline Day
release US 20.Apr.18, UK 4.May.18
18/US Voltage 1h46
I Feel Pretty
Hidden Valley, mmm: Scovel and Schumer

williams philipps campbell
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
I Feel Pretty There's a jarring contradiction at the centre of this comedy, which mixes slapstick silliness with a empowering message. And Amy Schumer's ability to entertain even if the plot sags or the messages clash distracts the audience from the movie's importance. The filmmakers are daring the audience not to laugh at the usual joke even as they push it to the limit. In other words: it's a comedy that makes you think.

Renee (Schumer) is crippled by insecurity about her appearance, longing to look like the rake-thin models who adorn the pages of the fashion magazine she works for. With her best pals (Philipps and Bryant), she's trying to ignite her dating life when a head injury leaves her convinced she's the most beautiful woman in Manhattan. Suddenly confident, she speaks her mind at work, catching the attention of boss Avery (Williams), her hot brother (Hopper) and their founder grandmother Lily (Hutton). And she also starts dating Ethan (Scovel), a nice guy in her neighbourhood.

Writers and first-time directors Kohn and Silverstein cleverly never reveal how Renee sees herself, which reminds the audience that she achieves everything on her own merit: there's no magic involved. They also harness Schumer's comedic fearlessness, allowing her to indulge mildly transgressive set-pieces that echo her TV series, but instead of poking fun at a pudgy woman acting sexy, she genuinely is sexy. This somewhat lessons the impact: Renee has no reason to feel so insecure. On the other hand, it reminds the audience that there's hope regardless of our own issues.

Schumer creates a resilient character that sustains the film even when it drags badly in the final act. Opposite her, Scovel adds wry sarcasm to what is essentially the Chris O'Dowd role. Philipps and Bryant are terrific as Renee's friends, beautiful women who don't fit the mould and need to realise that this is a strength rather than a weakness. And Williams steals the show with a hilariously pinched turn as a squeaky fashion icon.

The directors manage to keep all of this within the boundaries of acceptability for the target younger audience. It may feel muddled and incomplete (and literally preachy), and some of the situations downright ridiculous, but it's nice to see a comedy that never goes for a simplistic laugh. Everything here is tinged with irony, subverting expectations about what a gross-out comedy should be. Because this film isn't vulgar, it's a celebration.

cert 12 themes, language, sexuality 13.Apr.18

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© 2018 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall