I FEEL PRETTY
PLOT An insecure woman becomes convinced she is stunningly beautiful.
CAST Amy Schumer, Rory Scovel, Michelle Williams
RATED PG-13 (adult humor)
BOTTOM LINE A good-natured comedy with a sweet-and-saucy performance from Schumer.
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."
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.
FOUR MORE 'PRETTY' MOVIES
It’s pretty hard not to root for Rockville Centre’s Amy Schumer as a downtrodden woman who after a head injury is convinced she’s beautiful and confident. And you can bet a pretty penny there’s a pretty good batch of other movies with “Pretty” in the title.
PRETTY POISON (1968) Troubled factory-worker Anthony Perkins meets psycho high schooler Tuesday Weld, who’d kill or betray you any day of the week — or as director Noel Black called her, “a teeny-bopper Lady Macbeth.”
PRETTY BABY (1978) Brooke Shields starred as a 12-year-old prostitute in a 1917 New Orleans brothel, with Susan Sarandon as her mother and Keith Carradine as real-life photographer E.J. Bellocq, in this controversial drama directed by the great Louis Malle (“Atlantic City,” “Au Revoir les Enfants.”)
PRETTY IN PINK (1986) Molly Ringwald seeks love with Andrew McCarthy on prom night in this John Hughes-scripted teen classic also starring Jon Cryer, James Spader and Harry Dean Stanton.
PRETTY WOMAN (1990) Director Garry Marshall’s Cinderella story about a fledgling hooker who finds romance with rich guy Richard Gere left Julia Roberts sitting pretty with her second Oscar-nomination.