By now, it's no secret that I fancy myself a fan of Amy Schumer and I Feel Pretty is a film practically tailor-made to Schumer's strength as a comic and actress with an abundant sense of irony and heart to be found throughout the film's overly long yet ultimately satisfying 110-minute running time.
Schumer is Renee, an "average" young woman working in a decidedly non-average work setting, the online division of cosmetics powerhouse Lily LeClaire, where her averagosity (I made that up!) pretty much has her doomed to a lack of upward mobility and corporate life in a building far away from all the main Lily LeClaire action. Everything changes when Renee gets a serious bonk on her head, regaining consciousness only to suddenly look in the mirror and see herself as one of the most beautiful women in the world.
Friends Vivian (Aidy Bryant) and Jane (Busy Phillips) find it all rather amusing at first, convinced that any time now Renee will come back to her senses and life will return to its everyday average normal.
Schumer has a way of selling this material that reminded me more than a little bit of Ryan Gosling's turn in Lars and the Real Girl, an underrated gem that had Gosling portraying a young man who convinces himself and the world around him that his relationship with Bianca, an anatomically correct sex doll. While I Feel Pretty never quite trusts itself or its material enough to reach for Lars and the Real Girl's heights of comedy or depths of emotion, it's a film that finds Schumer embracing rather gloriously this newfound world that she completely believes in despite the disbelief and shaking heads that surround her.
Then, suddenly it all starts working.
With a newfound confidence, Renee's enthusiasm and ideas begin catching the eye of Avery LeClaire (Michelle Williams), daughter of the company's founding matriarch, played to glorious perfection by Lauren Hutton.
I Feel Pretty could have been a truly beautiful film, but co-writers/directors Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein never quite seem to have a firm grasp on their material's potential. It's hard not to believe that Schumer and her ensemble cast didn't see something special going on here, something potentially great that never quite gets realized despite the tremendous efforts of Schumer and four-time Oscar nominee Michelle Williams, the latter who manages to infuse even your average rom-com caricature into somthing far more special.
Too often in I Feel Pretty, potty humor replaces the psychological complexities of a young woman living in what amounts to being a delusional world. While Schumer finds the necessary nuances, it's a real pity that the film's script never follows along.
I Feel Pretty is a pretty darn good film, but you can just tell that everyone involved expected it to be a pretty darn great one. While it may not quite live up to its potential, I Feel Pretty still possesses an abundance of heart and steady, if not laugh out loud, humor throughout. Strong performances are everywhere to be found and I Feel Pretty is pretty darn sure to make you feel pretty, too.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic