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TODAY'S PAPER

'I Feel Pretty' review: Amy Schumer's most endearing role yet

Amy Schumer, right, stars in "I Feel Pretty." With, from left, Aidy Bryant and Busy Philipps. / STXfilms / Mark Schäfer

In "I Feel Pretty," Amy Schumer plays Renee Bennett, a blond bundle of insecurity whose deepest wish is to be beautiful. Renee’s dream comes true, she thinks, when she wakes up from an unfortunate spinning-class accident and sees a supermodel staring back at her.

The joke, of course, is that she hasn’t changed at all — but suddenly Schumer’s Renee is walking the streets of New York City with a Marilyn Monroe wiggle. When a construction worker whistles — not at her, but at a colleague — she turns around and blows the guy a big, wet smooch of gratitude.

These are funny moments, and “I Feel Pretty” gets plenty of mileage from the disconnect between Renee’s not-so-glamorous looks and her suddenly outsize self-confidence. Hiding within every gag is a deeper truth as well: All it really takes to be attractive is to feel attractive. "How do you do that?" asks Ethan (Rory Scovel) , an unassuming guy who is initially overwhelmed by Renee but slowly falls in love with her. "You know who you are, and you don’t care how the world sees you."

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Less self-assured is this movie’s screenplay, by Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein, two rom-com veterans ("Never Been Kissed”) making their directing debuts. Renee works for savvy cosmetics icon Lily LeClair (Lauren Hutton) and her spacey granddaughter, Avery (Michelle Williams), but the film refuses to paint either as a villain. That spares us some of the usual female stereotypes — but it also robs us of a villain. “I Feel Pretty” also goes awfully easy on the beauty industry and makes the least of a cameo by Naomi Campbell. (“Zoolander,” this isn’t.).

And yet, Schumer shines in her most endearing role yet, a ball of self-loathing transformed, wondrously, into the kind of woman who’ll hop on stage for a bikini contest at a dive bar. (“Renee hails from Long Island!” she says in her own introduction, a nod to Schumer’s Rockville Centre roots.) “She’s a keeper," the bar owner says to Ethan, and we can’t help but agree. We also hope the handsome playboy Grant LeClair (Tom Hooper) won’t wreck a good thing. 
 
Just before her transformation, Renee watches the Tom Hanks classic "Big,” which is exactly the kind of comedy-fable this movie aspires to be. “I Feel Pretty” doesn’t quite hit those heights, but at least there’s a little more to it than meets the eye.