Saucy Rom-com “I Feel Pretty” Mocks Superficialities

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Addison Morris
Staff Writer

Despite being hobbled by negative buzz before its debut last weekend, “I Feel Pretty” starring Amy Schumer offered pleasant surprises to people who ignored all the negative press surrounding the movie. “I Feel Pretty” was written and directed by both Abby Kohn and Mark Silverstein.

Ostensibly a rom-com, the movie offers a positive message about self-confidence so viewers, especially women, may tend to forgive the movie’s slight hiccups.

In a first-act scene that pays precise homage to “Big” — the 1988 comedy starring Tom Hanks as a young boy whose wish is to be ‘big’ — Renee Barrett (Amy Schumer) makes a wish to become “undeniably pretty.” Renee is an insecure woman whose job with a Fifth Avenue cosmetics company has her hidden away in an unglamourous Chinatown office. 

Of course, her wish is granted, though audience members and Renee’s friends can’t help but notice she still inhabits the same body, albeit with previously untapped confidence. Armed with what she thinks is new stuff, she struts and snags herself a new job, new friends, and a new boyfriend.

Her old friends Vivian and Jane, played by Saturday Night Live” Aidy Bryant and “Freaks and Geeks Busy Phillips respectively, think Renee is crazy when she asks if they recognize her. Model Emily Ratajkowski also plays a minor role in the film, while Michelle Williams (playing Renee’s boss) and Rory Scovel (her unpretentious love interest) advance the plot.

Though the premise and tone are lighthearted and funny, critics have bashed the film for fat-shaming. This criticism has some justification, as all the “pretty” girls that Renee aspires to be are stereotypically thin models and cycling addicts straight out of Central Casting. Additionally, the audience is meant to chuckle at — not with — Renee as she enters a bikini contest. However, since Renee succeeds by virtue of her sincerity and warmth, not because of drop dead looks, the movie delivers a message that many of the critics must have missed.

While it is unquestionable that hardly anybody reads past the headline of an article, I sometimes wonder if critics themselves watch past the trailer of movies before they write their reviews.

(Spoiler alert!)

Ultimately, Renee realizes that she has been in the same body all along and learns that, like Dumbo, she never needed a magic feather. She chooses to act like she is the most beautiful woman in the world no matter what she truly looks like because that is what makes her happiest.

The people in her life also see her as the prettiest girl out there. The film ends with strong vibes of self-love and acceptance that most of my minor criticisms about overused jokes, choppy editing in the third act that detracted from narrative focus, and uninteresting score aren’t worth more than a passing mention.

Today’s young girls grow up in a world where many of their role models — often literally models — are largely a product of airbrushing, makeup, hairdressers, plastic surgery, and photoshop. Most of the idealistic images they see are just that — unrealistic and unattainable snapshots of imaginary perfection. For this reason, it is refreshing and heartwarming to see Schumer fully exposed (yes) without any post-production edits or pre-production work (aside from some light makeup).

Moreover, Schumer is simply fun to watch. Her character becomes an unapologetically confident, vibrant, and funny lead who not only embraces and loves her body but accepts all parts of her life as if “all her dreams came true.” One instance of such unashamed confidence and humor featured Renee rambling about the past miseries of her former self rising to the happy conclusion, “But look at me now. I’m a receptionist!”  

Critics of “I Feel Pretty, focusing too intently on the airbrushed and vapid caricatures of beauty in the movie, missed that the filmmakers are mocking superficialities. The movie advances the theme of love for and happiness with the whole package of this thing we call life: not just bodies, but jobs, friends, and romance.  

“I Feel Pretty” stars the zesty Amy Schumer, saucy rom-com elements, and jokes about mini tabasco containers. This movie is a great pick for those times in your life when you need a little spice.