Mmm, mmm, mmm, look at him. He is so hot. He’s all muscle, charisma and pearly white teeth. He moves with ease and sensuality. He laughs like he means it. Every word. They all hang on his every word.
He makes eye contact and you look away.
That feeling. What is it? Doubt, disgust, a drive back to reality? In that moment, you know there is no way you could ever get a guy like that.
“I Feel Pretty,” a comedy written and directed by Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein, explores this destructive force in full comedy terms with the curvy comedienne, Amy Schumer at the center.
Renee Bennett (Schumer) is stuck in the basement of her life. She literally works in the basement of the fabulous cosmetics empire employing her. She is invisible standing in a room full of people. And, she cannot ride an elliptical bike to save her life.
The worst part is her consuming fear of living the best version of her life. She wants, but does not reach to grasp. She is dissatisfied, but opts to complain, rather than grind. One wish and a head injury later, she becomes the woman she’s craved to be. She emerges from the basement into the light of accomplishment.
In shedding her fear, there is a perspective shift and the world changes.
It’s a little bit “devil wears Prada” because her relationships are tested as she ascends the ranks of the beauty industry, but ultimately it’s a look at how a woman’s fear is often tied to her feelings about her appearance. See, Renee does what we are so frequently guilty of: she raises and lowers her esteem based on comparisons to other women.
What life experiences would open up to me if I looked like a high-fashion model? What lovers could I take? What gifts would I receive?
Here, though the movie is easily interpreted as a commentary on “real women” loving their bodies, the “Pretty” team offers a palatable lesson on acceptance, the truest gift.
If the movie can be judged, not on its premise– a woman gets a head injury to believe she’s beautiful– but on its intent– acceptance is transformative, it is the avenue leading toward exceptional power, then “I Feel Pretty” burrows deeper than the superficial pop comedy it’s anticipated to be.
It takes gravity to pull off towing the thin line between saying you’d have to be delusional to look like Schumer and feel pretty and saying a shift in attitude is what takes life from the bottom floor straight to the top. Where levity in her performances was a previous weakness, Schumer slows down and brings the weight needed to anchor this story while continuing to rely on her comedy chops.
Fortunately, it also causes a change in feminist analysis. Largely, social review of the “real woman” comes with encouragement, an effort to uplift her, but typically at the expense of thin, glamorous women. This movie opts to extend acceptance to all people, to humanize everyone.
The men are treated with welcome and the cinch-waisted babes with respect. “Pretty” celebrates the versatility of women while calling us out on our tendency to abandon each other for our self-induced, self-perceived short comings.
The movie’s short comings, however, are being laid at Amy Schumer’s feet, but the challenges actually lie in the editing. What we see visually is great, but the script, oh the script tries to do too much. With an encompassing topic, it’s easy to get bogged into executing too many ideas. That is the failing of Kohn and Silverstein. It is the thing that makes audiences expect more than they should.
This is a pop comedy. It is not Gloria Steinem vying for a Pulitzer. It is a movie about an important central issue told through a string of silly scenes. Just sit back. Relaxing will allow the laughs to come, and maybe even that deeper connection where you feel really understood. You’ll maybe even convert, knowing that it’s up to you to feel pretty.