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 You Are So Beautiful 

Amy Schumer
Amy Schumer
STX Entertainment
 110 Minutes
Directed byAbby Kohn, Marc Silverstein
Starring: Amy Schumer, Michelle Williams 
I Feel Pretty

One-joke comedies can be hilarious; Ghostbusters is, at heart, based on a single joke, that of the supernatural exterminator. But more often than not, such comedies run out of gas simply because they go on too long or become too repetitive (anyone who remembers the Mr. Ed television show will probably have a difficult time laughing past a single episode). But the most excruciating sort of one-joke comedy is one like I Feel Pretty, which fails for the most basic of reasons: the single joke simply isn’t funny. To make matters worse though, the film’s repeated attempts to milk humor out of its lame premise obscure its real strengths as a workplace comedy.


I Feel Pretty represents the latest effort by Amy Schumer to headline a comedy. She plays Renee Bennett, a rather ordinary woman who runs the website for the very high end Lily LeClaire Cosmetics. Renee is extremely shy and insecure, and her only social life is hanging out with two friends (Aidy Bryant and Busy Phillips) with similar insecurity issues. Renee longs to be as attractive as the Lily LeClaire models she sees on the website, even going so far as to make a wish by tossing a coin in a fountain, a scene inspired by her watching the Tom Hanks movie, Big.


Renee does not get her wish of magically becoming gorgeous, but she does manage to clunk her head when she falls off an exercise bike. When she wakes up, she thinks she is gorgeous, despite being and appearing to the outside world exactly the same as she was before. Regardless, her self-confidence gets an enormous boost and she decides to apply for a job in the company’s main office as the receptionist.


Of course, Renee does get the job, and she proves quite good at it. Eventually, Avery LeClaire (Michelle Williams), the company CEO and granddaughter of the founder (a very welcome-to-see Lauren Hutton), seeks out Renee’s opinion on a more moderately priced line of cosmetics the company plans to sell in big box, mainstream retailers like Target. Renee’s judgment proves spot on and she winds up getting a promotion and, eventually, getting a boyfriend as well, Ethan (Rory Scovel), a nice, average guy who likes Renee’s wit and lively character.


The single joke in I Feel Pretty is, of course, that Renee never becomes the rail-thin model type she imagines herself to be. If that doesn’t sound inherently funny, it isn’t. Attempts to derive humor from Amy Schumer drooling over her own reflection in the mirror simply aren’t in the slightest bit funny, and her telling her friends about how much she has changed don’t work at all. More fundamentally, however, the film has an impossible task. It has to mine humor out of the notion that the somewhat overweight Renee thinks she is a gorgeous model when she is not, while, at the same time, trying to send out a positive message to women that self-esteem is far more than what the bathroom scale registers. It’s a task that would probably challenge any filmmaker, so it’s no surprise that the writing/directing team of Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein fall flat.


As I Feel Pretty is written, the movie sends some definitely mixed messages out to audiences. On the one hand, it says that woman can be successful in business and romance even if they don’t look like Emily Ratajkowski (who has a cameo as a woman Renee meets at the health club), as long as they have some self-confidence. On the other hand, it says that they have to get clunked on the head and go off their rockers in order to get that self-confidence.


Of course, I Feel Pretty didn’t need the entire building up the self-image storyline at all. Instead of borrowing from Big, the filmmakers could easily have made a better movie by borrowing from another popular 1980’s comedy, Working Girl. Renee becomes successful, not through her looks or even her self-confidence, but by hard work, intelligence, and charisma. Amy Schumer has built her image as a hard partying, foul mouthed comic, but this movie demonstrates she has a sweet side to her personality that would make her a good fit in romantic comedies. Indeed, her relationship with Rory Scovel, which has a refreshing believability to it, is one of the highlights of the movie.


I Feel Pretty manages to surprise in some other ways as well. In most movies of this nature, the corporate higher ups would be anal retentive jerks, but here, everyone takes to Renee as soon as they realize she has valuable experience and information. In particular, Avery reveals herself to be very insecure as well, not about the complexities of being the CEO of a major company, but, rather, because of her high pitched, squeaky voice (which sounds a bit like Marilyn Monroe, an actress that Michelle Williams had previously portrayed, in her Some Like It Hot mode). It’s a solid performance by Williams, who helps make a stock character into someone intriguingly different.


In fact, everyone in the movie likes Renee for who she is except for Renee herself. That makes for a distinct lack of conflict without at least one character in a position of authority who tries to put Renee down. The filmmakers recognize that lack of conflict and try to resolve it by turning the “new” Renee into a bit of a self-centered jerk who adopts a patronizing attitude toward her former friends who aren’t as “attractive” as she is. If this sounds like an even worse plot development than Renee’s clunk on the head, it is. The stretch of the movie where Renee finally wises up is by far the weakest part of the film.


In her first two starring roles, the highly popular Trainwreck and the considerably less successful Snatched, Amy Schumer has taken her standup comedy persona and transformed that into a movie character. Other comics like Rodney Dangerfield have done the same thing over the years, but, with Schumer, this shtick appears to be a case of the law of diminishing returns. She tries to stake out new territory in I Feel Pretty and succeeds in part, but a script that emphasizes a line of humor that was doomed to failure from the start stands in her way. Actually, Amy Schumer the romantic comedy leading lady who isn’t concerned about her weight or image, is a winning character, and I feel pretty confident that this version of Schumer would have fared far better in this movie.

In this clip, Amy Schumer flirts with Rory Scovel .

Read other reviews of I Feel Pretty: 

I Feel Pretty (2018) on IMDb