High-concept Amy Schumer comedy about a drab woman who becomes convinced she looks like a fashion model stumbles
I FEEL PRETTY (Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein). 110 minutes. Opens Friday (April 20). See listing. Rating: NN
I Feel Pretty takes some really interesting ideas about insecurity and empowerment and buries them in a high-concept, low-yield comedy with a constant, unavoidable buzz of wrongness. It doesn’t work – like, at all – but it soldiers forward convinced that it’s doing everything exactly right.
In a weird way, Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein’s high-concept rom-com functions exactly the same way as its protagonist, Amy Schumer’s unhappy New York City singleton Renee. Living an unfulfilled life as a web designer for a cosmetics giant, Renee drinks away her disappointment until one morning when she bumps her head at SoulCycle and wakes up convinced she’s been transformed into a fashion model. Or a literal goddess. It’s difficult to say for sure, since we never see how she sees herself – one of the first stumbles in a movie that never seems to find its footing.
Screenwriters Kohn and Silverstein – whose credits include the Drew Barrymore high-school ickfest Never Been Kissed and the low-key charming Dakota Johnson/Rebel Wilson comedy How To Be Single – are clearly out to subvert fantastical rom-coms like Shallow Hal and 13 Going On 30 by removing the fantastical part entirely and seeing how they’d play out in the real world.
But by playing that card while still following the classic fantasy rom-com structure, they just keep reminding us that we’re watching a movie about a woman with a traumatic brain injury who’s clearly delusional but somehow never gets called on her behaviour – or, hell, even taken to the hospital.
Schumer does her best with the material, and she gets some decent scene partners in Rory Scovel as Renee’s bemused love interest and Michelle Williams as a perpetually underestimated cosmetics heir who hires Renee as a receptionist. But they’re all trapped in a movie that just isn’t doing what it thinks it is.
They deserve better than I Feel Pretty, and so do we.