I Feel Pretty - 2018
Director(s): Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein
Writer(s): Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein
Cinematography by: Florian Ballhaus
Editor(s): Tia Nolan
Cast: Amy Schumer, Michelle William, Rory Scovel, Aidy Bryant and Busy Philipps
Synopsis: A woman struggling with insecurity wakes from a fall believing she is the most beautiful and capable woman on the planet. Her new confidence empowers her to live fearlessly, but what happens when she realizes her appearance never changed? (IMDB)
I grew up watching the movies that inspired this type of premise - magical body transformation - and one of my all time favorites is Tom Hank’s Big. It’s a fun premise and it leads to a lot of fish out of water jokes that I genuinely enjoy. Almost all of them depend on the protagonist’s innocence to drive the jokes home as the situation is the set-up or “butt” of the joke and not them. I Feel Pretty, despite having been inspired by them, completely missed this aspect of the formula as all the jokes are at the expense of their protagonist.
Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein, first time directors, did a fine enough job at taking their audience from point A to point B. During my review of Game Night, I pointed out how pleasantly surprised I was at how well directed the movie was. It was treated like a cinematic experience rather than a vehicle to deliver jokes. Here we fall back to the same bland look all comedies have relied on since the Apatow era took over Hollywood. There is nothing visually interesting happening in this movie, and when your jokes fall flat and when your acting is wooden, you are left to explore the visual esthetics only to realize there is nothing interesting about them.
I truly believe that Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein as writers had the best intentions in mind. Showing how a woman on the opposite side of what magazines and TV showcase as beauty can be beautiful if she believes in herself. The problem is that they write a character who only gains that confidence because she believes she magically got a perfect body. After this they showcase her personality and her confidence grows and this leads to success in her work life and she gets a boyfriend. As an audience member, you see a world that stopped focusing on her flaws, exaggerated as they are, and focused instead on what she brings to the table. The messages get muddy as they are saying basically for the entire runtime that the only way to get ahead in life is if you are beautiful or think you are the cookie-cut version of what society thinks is beautiful. The outside is the only thing that will stop you from getting self-confidence. I would’ve enjoyed more a woman who decides on her own that going forward she is going to believe in herself.
Quick note: While they are trying to get the message across of “don’t judge,” they judge heavily people they deem to have it all. Every single “beautiful” person looks down on the “normal” or unattractive. Also, they treat beautiful people like they have nothing to complain about, because, you know, you aren’t fat.
Now coming back to the protagonist being the butt of the joke. It’s not only that the jokes are extremely misguided and pointed at the wrong people, it’s that the jokes aren’t funny at all. I probably laughed once during the entire movie and it was a chuckle. If your message is, outside beauty is not all that matters, then your jokes shouldn’t be “look at this fat chick thinking she is beautiful”. Almost all the jokes felt mean-spirited. Isn’t it funny that she thinks she can be a model? Isn’t it funny that she is so confident a man is attracted to her? I mean it's flat out hilarious that she dares to get on stage with women with actual “perfect” bodies and competes against them.
I Feel Pretty is a complete misfire on all fronts. They failed to deliver a positive message, even if by the end she finds her confidence despite her looks. They failed to deliver an actual comedy and they failed to entertain their audience. A few tweaks to the story and a better actress this movie could’ve been what the trailers want you to think it is – empowering. There is nothing to see here. It’s all chaos. Just be kind to one another. Big is why I love movies.
I Feel Pretty is currently playing in theaters. Hard Pass.
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