Did you hear there was a backlash against I Feel Pretty? It was dumb as shit, perpetuated by many people making judgments based on the trailer alone. Well, I actually saw the movie, and guess what? Well . . . okay, it's also kind of dumb. But not dumb as shit! Also, it's fine. A pleasant enough, silly diversion.
Honestly, stupid reactions based on preconceived notions or not, conceptually, this movie would have fit much more sensibly in the cinema landscape of, say, the late nineties. It's not like the concept of a woman who does not fit traditional notions of "standard beauty" being confident and capable and sexy is all that novel these days. I Feel Pretty does kind of try to make it seem as though it is. Then again, sexism still runs rampant, and anyone who thinks resulting insecurity, particularly among women, is nonexistent is basically a moron.
So really, you can kind of go both ways with this movie. But here are some noteworthy redeeming values.
First and foremost is the impressively subtle performances. Amy Schumer as Renee Bennett has nuance arguably not seen before in her other movies, both as the insecure woman who can't conceive of herself as pretty, and as the more confident version of herself who suddenly sees only a spectacular beauty in the mirror after hitting her head in a Soul Cycle accident. She carries the movie well, and Aidy Bryant and Busy Philipps are lovely as her two best friends. Rory Scovel in particular is impressively subtle as Ethan, the boyfriend bemused by Renee's antics and inspired by her confidence.
The real standout, though, is Michelle Williams as Avery LeClaire, the CEO of the cosmetics company where Renee works. Perhaps her squeaky high voice was intended as comedy, but unfortunately Williams doesn't get much in the way of laughs, which means she won't get the notice she deserves. But she really commits to the part, to the point where it would be easy not to realize it's even her. Comedies don't usually feature acting this good. At the very least, Williams makes her character sincere and relatable, even as someone regular people would not tend to relate to.
But, they are launching a new, lower-end line of products aimed at stores like Target, which is how co-directors and co-writers Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein infuse the script with one of multiple odd parallels to the movie Big. Renee happens to be present at a meeting where she's offered the chance to make a "surprisingly" incisive observation, and in no time at all she's flying in a private plane with company leadership. Also, she literally watches the "I wish I were big" scene in Big and goes to make her own "I wish I were beautiful" wish with a coin in a fountain.
Which is to say, the idea that I Feel Pretty is contrived, and truly predictable, is an understatement. However dated the concept and message may seem however, they are still worthy. The very fact that people criticize this movie because Amy Schumer is supposedly "too beautiful" -- a famous blonde -- to be believable in the role is preposterous. Just spend two minutes reading any comment threads about her and within two sentences you'll find vile statements about her looks and her weight. Such critics, ironically, prove the film's actual worthiness.
Sure, I Feel Pretty has legitimate flaws, and won't be remembered as any kind of classic. It's also silly fun, with a message that may be hokey but is also important. Certain plot developments, and especially the "rousing speech" at the end, might justifiably elicit eye rolls, but there's nothing worth hating here. I found myself fairly charmed, all things considered.