Meek New Yorker Renee (Schumer) has body image issues. Because she believes she isn’t pretty she feels shunned by society: she can’t get served at the bar, she works in a basement, and when she tries to buy clothes she learns that “sizing is limited”. But when she bangs her head at a workout session she transforms, suddenly seeing herself as the beautiful woman she always wanted to be, much to the confusion of her singleton friends (Busy Philips and Aidy Bryant), and the taken-aback Ethan (Scovel), whom she flirts with at the dry cleaners, who are blissfully unaware of where this newfound confidence comes from. It’s not long before she’s noticed by high end cosmetic company boss Avery (Williams) and she begins to climb the ladder…
The writer-director team of Cohn and Silverstein make a song and dance about its influence here: Penny Marshall’s Big. But the movie I Feel Pretty really leans on her is Special, the little-seen gem that saw Michael Rappaport believe he has super powers despite evidence to the contrary. So yeah – Special (a woman believes she’s pretty…) meets The Devil Wears Prada (… and alienates her friends) is the pitch here. And it’s as fun as that sounds with a real shift put in by its charismatic lead.
While she doesn’t exhibit the same skill for physical comedy as Melissa McCarthy, which the story calls upon her to show every now and then, Schumer is eminently likeable and isn’t afraid of being paired with unconventional leading men. While Bill Hader in Trainwreck had a lot more to do than Rory Scovel here, who is just asked to stand back and be perplexed at this confident woman, the two enjoy some chemistry. You really hope they will get together and how often can you say that with rom-coms these days?
What lets the side down is when Cohn and Silverstein shy away from their subject’s real thorny issues, but then we can’t expect anything hard hitting from the writers of He’s Just Not That Into You, Never Been Kissed and How To Be Single. It’s too safe and cosy and offers up some obvious developments: Schumer discovers that confident and perfect boss Williams (her Ickle Girl voice is a hoot) is patronised by her brother (Hopper) and finds model (Emily Ratajkowski) crying after being dumped. So being beautiful isn’t all that. One is left thinking that if Schumer wrote the script, just like she did with Trainwreck, we’d have a spikier and riskier rom-com. Maybe next time.