So, remember that movie Shallow Hal? Renee Bennett is an average girl in an average life…who always always wished to be as beautiful as the models on magazines who advertise for her employer high end makeup producer Lily LeClaire. One day at a Soul Cycle Session she gets a hit to the head and awakens to find she is suddenly one of the most beautiful women she has ever seen. Perfect body and face…the hitch is…only she can see this. Completely unaware that she looks the same as before to everyone else, she proceeds to walk through her life believing she is physically a new person.
This is, of course, where most of the humor is mined. As Renee tries to convince her friends she really is still Renee, not some strange woman they have never met, her friends react totally confused recognizing the same woman they have always known.
Renee gets a lot of confused looks as she responds to advances and compliments never made. She talks about being able to eat whatever she wants and “still look like this”, believing the stunned and incredulous looks are reactions of agreement. Because she simply believes she is beautiful.
Unknown to her, this confidence has a powerful impact on the perceptions of those around her. When she hits on Ethan believing he has made the first move, he finds himself confounded and totally taken with Renee. And even her dream hunk, the brother of her boss, finds himself drawn to the cocky and self assured Renee.
But as she starts to succeed in ways she believes are only due to her newfound beauty, it starts to strain her friendships. Because, when it comes down to it, Renee has bought into the notion that it is all about the exterior package. And so she starts to try and treat her friends as a product to be up-sold to other people.
The film avoids any cliched villains. In fact their are no villains. When we are first introduced to Avery LeClaire, she seems to be a vapid elitist. The elitist part is true, she struggles to connect with her grandmother’s desired discount product. But she turns out to have been a well educated young women who has long struggled to be taken seriously, judged on her exteriors. Same with the beautiful young model Renee idolizes as being problem free…the film goes out of its way, in fact, to acknowledge that regardless of how you look, women are in this together.
Of course, Hollywood’s “it’s what is inside that counts” anthems are often well place but can feel a little empty. Remember how I mentioned Shallow Hal? In that film, Hal is a guy obsessed with physical beauty. A chance encounter with a self help guru leaves Hal hypnotized so that he sees the inner beauty of a person. So, he sees each woman he meets in an idealized light. But then, each female character Hal meets is a model later in makeup to make her look less pretty. Now, that film has it’s own positive and negative issues (typical with the early Farrelly Brothers material). But Hollywood is pretty looks obsessed. We humans favor beauty and Hollywood is more than happy to define it and feed it to us.
I Feel Pretty Tries to keep things grounded, and one of the smart things the film does is that we never actually see Renee’s idealized form. We don’t know what she is actually seeing. We see Amy Schumer the whole time.
The biggest problem the movie has is length. It just drags at times. And most of the information in those scenes is communicated better elsewhere in the film. But largely, I enjoyed I Feel Pretty. It is largely funny, has it’s heart in the (mostly) right place and tries hard to leave it’s audience with a sense that life is a lot better if you don’t worry that your package is not good enough.
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