Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Movie Review: I FEEL PRETTY (2018)

In an age of Instagram models and Keeping Up With The Kardashians, self-worth and self-love is paramount.  So many people, both men and women, suffer from self-esteem issues from an increasingly early age, so when I first heard about this movie I was both excited and nervous.  Would this be more like Shallow Hal, where a filmmaker is trying to get a good message across, but fails at doing it well?  Thankfully it wasn’t, as Amy Schumer and directors Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein tell a fun story with a message that will hit home with many people.

I Feel Pretty tells the story of a woman named Renee who works in the basement annex of a high end cosmetics company.  She struggles with insecurity, as many of us do, and after hitting her head during a Spin Cycle class, she wakes up believing she’s extremely beautiful.  What she doesn’t realize is that she actually hasn’t changed at all, but this new view of herself gives her the confidence to do all the things she has always been too afraid to do.  This fearlessness she gains pushes her toward all of her dreams, but not without a cost.  It changes her, and not for the better.

Amy Schumer is one of those actresses that most people associate with one type of film, that being the raunchy comedy.  She is also, unfortunately, a very divisive actress among film fans, some going as far as to completely discount a film simply because she’s in it, or even tear her down for her looks.  And that right there is the reason that this film is important.  Schumer isn’t the “beauty standard” that most magazines, TV shows and films push on their audiences, and that’s why she was perfect for this role.  Insecurity is something that people of all looks deal with, whether you are “beautiful” or not, and this film deals with that in a really nice way.  We see people who don’t fit into that standard who are happy with the person they are and we see those who are not, which is something I expected.  But we also get to see people who do fall within that standard who suffer these same insecurities, which makes the film feel much more real to me, as this is a truth of life.

Unlike some of her previous films like Trainwreck and Snatched, this one doesn’t rely on crude, sexual humor and instead takes a more honest approach to make the audience laugh.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy crude humor as much as the next guy, but it’s great to see her do something other than that.  It shows that she can do different types of comedy, and doesn’t have to wind up pigeonholed into one specific subgenre.  I have felt this way with Melissa McCarthy lately, as most of her movies utilize crude humor, but even she’s doing something different (from the looks of it) with her upcoming film Life of the Party.

The film almost plays like a romantic comedy, but it’s definitely not.  It is a comedy, and it does involve a romance, but it’s not the core of the film.  If anything, the “romance” that leads the film is Renee’s love for herself.  She falls in love with herself, then something happens that causes a rift in that love, and then it all comes together at the end.  It’s a classic rom-com trope being used in a film that’s not actually a rom-com, and that is something you don’t see often, and something this film succeeds at.  It also succeeds at the romantic portion as well, as Schumer has great chemistry with Rory Scovel who plays her boyfriend, Ethan.  He is such a likeable character, and that is all because of the pitch perfect performance delivered by Scovel in every scene he’s in.  He’s able to stand toe-to-toe with such a strong personality like Schumer without being overshadowed.

Now, even though it sounds like I really enjoyed this film (and I did), that doesn’t mean it's without any flaws, because it definitely has some.  The story overall isn’t very original.  It’s told well, but it’s something I’ve seen multiple times before, sometimes better, sometimes worse.  I also didn’t like how Renee treated her friends like complete garbage after she became “beautiful” in her own mind.  I understand that they were showing us how some people care more about looks than they do about the people in their lives, but it just rubbed me the wrong way a bit.  But, like I said, I understood why, and it was part of the story as opposed to just some superfluous thing, and I know from experience that some people do act this way.

Overall, even with the few negatives I mentioned, I Feel Pretty is a film that succeeds at delivering a message to its audience.  That message is "love yourself".  You don’t need to look like a supermodel or a CW star to be happy with who you are.  Always strive to be the best you, but don’t lose yourself in the process.  So go check this movie out, you just might be pleasantly surprised.  I know I was.

The Merc’s Score:  7/10

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