Comedian Amy Schumer is no “darling” to the right. Her very public opinions about conservatives, gun control and Trump voters have understandably turned off many who consider themselves conservative. Her liberal (and often crass) approach to sexuality is also something many find distasteful.
Certainly Schumer’s comedy and political bent is not for everyone. However, Schumer’s talent is undeniable. When she gets scripts that are written with intention her talent is able to shine, like with Judd Apatow’s Trainwreck. When studios just depend on her “schtick” to sell a movie it produces a flop, like Snatched. Despite her R-rated demeanor, Schumer can be a joy to watch on the big screen when the project is right.
Schumer fans had high hopes for her latest project, I Feel Pretty. Unfortunately, before the film even debuted it received a remarkable amount of blowback from the feminist set, and even people like myself. Here was a movie about a relatively thin, cute white girl playing an “ugly” girl who then comes to find confidence by seeing herself as a thin, cute white girl. Schumer is no chubby chick. By normal American standards she is at least completely average weight-wise, perhaps even above-average. She may not be a super model, but she’s not the type of woman who would be considered “gross” by any stretch of the imagination – not physically, anyway. How insulting that Hollywood would try to thrust this woman upon us in yet another of their disgustingly unrealistic standards of beauty!
Then I went to see I Feel Pretty for myself. Though I’m loathe to admit it, I have to say…I was wrong.
I Feel Pretty isn’t a movie about a perfectly fine-looking white girl playing an ugly girl transforming into a supermodel, it’s a movie about having the confidence to accept yourself as you are.
Schumer plays a Renee – a young, awkward New Yorker with deep self-esteem issues. She spends her days as the sole employee of the online division of an elite make-up brand. She’s hidden away in the basement office but longs to be one of the “pretties” who are employed at the high profile 5th Avenue headquarters. Renee has a job that pays for a one-bedroom apartment (a singular feat in today’s New York area housing market) and amazing best friends who love her unconditionally. Even though she seems to have a pretty good life, she constantly judges herself as ugly, stupid and not worthy of good things in her life.
When she hits her head in a freak stationary bike accident, she awakens with a strange new development – Renee thinks she’s been transformed into a supermodel. When she looks in the mirror the audience (and everyone else) sees the same Renee, but she sees the body and face of her dreams. Suddenly she thinks her greatest dream has come true…she’s hot! The rest of the movie shows the consequences of Renee’s newfound confidence. Her dreams begin to come true as she begins to navigate life as a hottie rather than a nottie. Hijinx ensue, love is found and lost and found again, lessons are learned.
Along the way there are some genuinely funny moments. The script is well-written and the supporting cast (including Michelle Williams in a delightful turn as the make-up company’s sophisticated, envied, but ultimately insecure head) is stellar. But even more impressive was how the film was able to take some of the very beauty issues average American women struggle with every day, squeeze them into a romantic comedy and still make them relatable.
Early on in the film, one scene in particular nabbed me. Renee comes home from a long day of doubting herself and her worth, pulls off work clothes and stares at herself in the mirror. She is filled with disgust and although Schumer does not utter one word, her face tells the story – she hates what she sees and she thus knows she doesn’t deserve happiness.
Every woman can relate to this moment. In fact, I found even found myself getting a bit teary-eyed. Every one of us has had that moment…that moment when we look in the mirror and feel ashamed of the reflection. We see “beauty” modeled for us every day in airbrushed photos, glitzy movies and filtered Instagram posts. Then we go home and see ourselves and there’s no way we can match up to all that. We’ve attached physical perfection to the notion of success in this country, and when we see our glaring imperfections sometimes it’s hard to feel anything but self-loathing. At one time or another every woman has stood in the mirror and asked aloud how anyone could possibly love her the way she is.
I Feel Pretty perfectly captures this reality with limited raunch and even some grace. Schumer comes off as adorable and relatable. This movie is certainly a type of redemption for her after the god-awful Snatched.
Her political utterances aside, Amy Schumer does not deserve to be shamed for this film. It’s no Sophie’s Choice, it won’t win any Oscars but it is worth a viewing before making a judgment.
Ultimately it asks a question that we should all endeavor to ask for ourselves…
How would your life change if you lived it as though you were already everything you wished you could be?