Review: I Feel Pretty

I’m always going to rate a film that directly calls out the oppressive narcissism and unfair expectations that modern society places on women and, for that, I Feel Pretty gets a pat on the back. It’s not hugely funny, wafer thin in plotting and far-too-long-for-its-single-joke-premise but Schumer’s amiable lead turn does carry you through.

Embracing your body image shouldn’t be dictated by anybody. You should look how you look and shouldn’t be made to feel bad or a failure because you aren’t what Hollywood or the media expects you to look like. That’s the beating heart of first time directing duo (Long time screenwriting partners) Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein’s I Feel Pretty. The strangest irony that befouls such a big hearted message film is that it mines its comedy from the very thing it is castigating the industry for.

Renee (Amy Schumer) is a deeply self conscious, insecure 40 something whose life is stuck in perpetual image hell as she doesn’t represent the way a woman should look in modern day New York. After she comes a gutser in a gym spinning class, the bump on her head has an unprecedented side effect – Renee thinks she has the body of a supermodel. Now, with her self confidence in overdrive and her carefree approach to life dazzling all around, Renee takes on her world, modelling agencies, judgemental nobodies and a new love interest with gusto.

More intent on selling the hook than fully exploring the premise, I Feel Pretty ambles through a derivative story line that you’ve navigated umpteen times before and solely relies on Schumer’s charm to get you through the dross on show. Luckily, for the most part, it does and the comic’s presence and her well-established fearlessness in challenging body shaming is right on point. You just wish she had better material to work with.

All the jokes that abound in I Feel Pretty revolving around us laughing at a society-labelled overweight person with the mistaken belief she’s trim, taut and terrific. Either Schumer’s flaunting her stomach, or overtly sexualising herself to make it seem that her full figure is something to laugh at, or talking about how fabulous she is (though, as society dictates – she shouldn’t be) – yet, isn’t this the very thing the movie should be championing, not making fun of?

And this, my fellow film nuts, is the I Feel Pretty‘s exposed Achilles heel. As it guns for this one joke from several different approaches, it misses every other opportunity to really explore the concept or make a solid stand. Plot devices serve to get Renee into the next gag set piece but nothing feels particularly fresh or exciting.

Driven solely on the charm of its lead star, I Feel Pretty does have something to say about expectations on women in modern society, it just doesn’t know quite how to say it as confidently as its central protagonist believes herself to be.