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‘I Feel Pretty’ – Amy Schumer comedy upbeat in all the right ways

I Feel Pretty

Poster of "I Feel Pretty"

By Eleanor Ringel Cater

If you don’t think of Natalie Wood and “West Side Story” when you hear the title of Amy Schumer’s new movie, that’s ok.

In fact, given the plot, “I Feel Pretty” is probably best taken as a statement, not a song lyric.

Make that, an ironic statement of sorts. Renee is a smart, funny, good-hearted woman who looks like, well, Amy Schumer.  That is, she’s not a super-model, but she’s attractive enough (For starters, she’s blonde.)

I Feel Pretty

Scene from “I Feel Pretty”

The problem is, Renee doesn’t want to be attractive; she wants to be smashing.  She wants to know what it’s like to walk in a room and turn heads, to be, as she says, “undeniably pretty.”

And she gets her wish…sort of.  Renee falls off her workout bike at SoulCycle and bashes her head. And, you could say, knocks some sense into herself.

For whatever reason, Renee now sees herself as not just undeniably pretty but certifiably gorgeous. Glowing with newfound self-confidence, she applies for the out-of-her-league (in her mind) receptionist job at a high-end cosmetics company. And gets it.

She banters with a cute guy (Rory Scovel) at the dry cleaners. And gets him.

Nothing about her outward appearance has changed, but because her attitude has, her life has.

Yes, “I feel Pretty” is a self-help guide disguised as an Amy Schumer comedy.

The good news is, unlike most self-help tomes, this is one is sweet and rather clever and even charming.  It’s upbeat in all the right ways.

It is not, however, life-changing or cutting edge or even slightly biting. If you go expecting any of those things, you’re going to be disappointed. Very.

I Feel Pretty

Poster of “I Feel Pretty”

Instead, accept the movie on its own terms. Enjoy the mild digs at obnoxious guys who try to pick up any pretty woman they can simply because she’s there and she’s pretty.

Or the tone-deaf sales clerk who cheerfully assures Renee that the store carries larger sizes online.

Or the bikini contest Renee enters (her dance routine is straight out of “Little Miss Sunshine”), telling Scovel it’s just for fun. “I know I look great,” she says. “I don’t need a room full of drunk guys to confirm it.” (Hanging chad question: why do the other women need that?)

Schumer is riding on her own tsunami of self-confidence these days.  So much so she can afford to surround herself with fine supporting players.  In the harder-than-it-looks role of handsome good-guy, Scovel is every bit as good as Bill Hader was in Schumer’s debut film, ‘Trainwreck.”

And Michelle Williams delivers a comic gem of a performance as the heiress-apparent to the cosmetics empire where Renee works, Her hair a halo of blonde-on-blond perfection, her voice a glazed monotone, she moves through her scenes as if she were walking through a vat of very expensive face cream.

Eleanor Ringel

Eleanor Ringel, Movie Critic, was the film critic for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for almost 30 years. She was nominated multiple times for a Pulitzer Prize. She won the Best of Cox Critic, IMAGE Film & Video and Women In Film awards. An Atlanta native, she graduated from Westminster and Brown University. She was the critic on WXIA’s Noonday, a member of Entertainment Weekly's Critics Grid and wrote TV Guide’s movie/DVD. She is member of the National Society of Film Critics and currently talks about movies on WMLB and writes the Time Out column for the Atlanta Business Chronicle.


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