“It’s just a rehash of Shallow Hal”
“I can’t believe I have to review this…”
“Hey, maybe it’s not that bad”
This was the (not so) witty banter overheard in the press row for the screening of I Feel Pretty the other night, as I sat down in the theater with my 13-year-old daughter. The film stars Amy Schumer as a gal with low self-esteem who bumps her head and wakes up feeling “pretty”.
Trying desperately to ignore the Negative Nellys in my row, I vowed to keep an open mind, especially in front of my teenage daughter. I hoped that this was NOT going to be a rehash of the abysmal Shallow Hal nor any other fat-shaming-disguised-as-comedy vehicle. I think I speak for all us chubby girls when I say: we are ALL DONE with those kinds of movies, thanks.
I’m happy to report, I Feel Pretty is NOT a rehash of Shallow Hal. I’ve never been happier to see Schumer’s character Renee look into the mirror after waking up “pretty” to see the exact same face we, the audience see staring back at her. No Gwyneth Paltrow, no CGI-augmented thinner faced, rock-hard-abbed version of her. Just her. She doesn’t magically look like someone else, it’s her mindset that changes, and that’s where this movie razzle-dazzles. Every time you expect it to zig? It zags.
I don’t want to give the entire movie away, but I would like to shout out some awesome performances. So, cough cough...without further ado....
SPOILER ALERT! (this is where you like, totally stop reading if you don’t want my words to like, taint your view of the film beforehand, or give you some bad vibes or whatever? Like, okay? Okay.)
Rory Scovel, the comedian who plays Renee’s main love interest is a total breath of fresh air. While he does have a certain South Carolina ‘aww shucks ma’am’ vibe about him, it’s very subtle and done with a twinkle in his eye. I may have found my newest cinematic crush. (squeee!)
Renee works for a high fashion makeup company in NYC, so naturally supermodel Naomi Campbell pops up in a cameo, as well as several other fashion icons, including Lauren Hutton (who is 74 years old, b-t-dubs, and still fierce AF!) You couldn’t pass a magazine stand in the 70’s and 80’s without seeing her gorgeous gap-toothed smile on ALL the covers. And while, yes, she was in American Gigolo with Richard Gere, who could forget her tour de force role as a sexy vampire in Once Bitten opposite Jim Carrey! (Nerd Alert!)
(Okay spoiler part over!)
Four-time Academy Award nominee Michelle Williams is a total hoot playing a character that, well, let’s just say, is NOT in her normal wheelhouse. There’s a Donatella Versace, by way of Shoshanna from Girls vibe going on that just slays. Michelle is not afraid to look ridiculous.
Along with fashion icons and models, models everywhere, there’s also a very healthy dose of actors from the comedy world. I was thrilled to see comedian Dave Attell (Insomniac!) in the bikini contest scene. Oh, did I NOT mention there’s a bikini contest scene? SPOILER ALERT: There’s a bikini contest scene. GET READY.
Boston’s own Tony V elevates his game in an absolutely hysterical cameo. SNL’s Aidy Bryant is criminally underused, but adorable in all her scenes. There are some great little pop-culture nods here too. You had me with a scene from the 80’s Tom Hanks movie BIG playing on a tv in the background, but damn you made me fall in LOVE with a music placement of The The’s "This Is The Day" featuring prominently in an early scene.
I Feel Pretty does fall into certain traps when dealing with the subject of women and low self-esteem. There are some wrong turns in to Absurdville a little more than I would have liked, but ultimately it’s a very cute movie with an insanely important message. Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt insecure, unattractive, or inadequate. Oh LOOK! That’s ALL OF US. I Feel Pretty makes us laugh, and maybe feel all the feelings for a second or two (IS IT DUSTY IN HERE?) It shines a very bright light on the power of self-confidence, self-love, and fearlessness.
I am so glad I didn’t listen to the Negative Nellys. Pssst: My super-surly 13-year-old daughter LOVED IT! But please don't tell her I told you that. #ShesMoody