FILM REVIEW: The Problem with "I Feel Pretty"
Being a human can be damn hard, even at the best of times. However, being a woman can be downright exhausting. From a very young age, we are conditioned to place superficial values such as looks very high on the shopping list of life that we sometimes call “goals”. Just scroll down Instagram and you’ll see countless of comments about how people, especially those that identify with the female gender, aspire to be a perfect looking figment.
On the other hand, it is cinema that can aspire to break these aesthetically pleasing norms, often paving the way for the 99% of women that do not look like these poster children for perfection. Strong, different characters in romantic comedies such as Diane Keating’s titular role in Annie Hall or the flurry of hilarious and brilliant women that star in Bridesmaids are small beacons of light that females quite often look up to. These are the relatable and quirky characters that represent today’s modern woman in all her glory.
I Feel Pretty, starring comedienne of the moment, Amy Schumer, attempts to slot into this inspiring category with her tale of an insecure single woman who hits her head during a rather embarrassing spin class and wakes up to believe she now looks like a supermodel. Featuring fellow beautiful, white women, Michelle Willliams and the classic Instagram scapegoat of perfection herself, Emily Ratajowski, Amy Schumer finds herself able to do everything she ever dreamed of, because she now too, wait for it, feels pretty. Hilarity ensues at Schumer’s expense as she finds herself in many entertaining situations. Look out for the bikini contest scene in particular for a genuine belly laugh that also shouts "You go girl!'.
I Feel Pretty is a sweet movie that excels by focusing on the hilarity and silliness of Schumer, a no-holds-barred cringe that in certain scenes is far too good to look away. The brilliance of Michelle Williams is once again shown as she plays the ridiculously over the top boss who is millions of miles away from the seriously gritty roles we usually see from her (like Blue Valentine and the fantastic Manchester by The Sea). The plot is simple and easy to follow, making the audience constantly root for Schumer's character to succeed within her personal and work life.
Written and directed by the duo of Marc Silverstein and Abby Kohn (He’s Just Not That Into You, How to Be Single), I Feel Pretty is supposed to be an easy watch; the kind you watch when you’re hungover and just need blank noise in the background. Unfortunately, this movie is far too problematic to be just that.
By casting a strong comedienne as one who has made a name for herself on being relatable and down to earth, and subjecting her down to an insecure and ultimately obnoxious character that is plonked in front of gorgeous women, the film becomes extremely irritating. Even just by suggesting a wonderful lady like Schumer isn’t good enough, only for the ending to revolve around her finding a, you guessed it, handsome man to save the day, is downright offensive.
Particular scenes that capitalise on the fact the audience is meant to believe Schumer isn’t good looking enough, takes away the confident nature that women work so hard to achieve. The scene in which she’s asking a man out in a dry cleaners is supposed to be very funny. It is not. The only funny thing about it is that people actually think it is funny a woman who isn’t a typical size 6 model shouldn’t ask someone out. If this is you, you are wrong and you do not deserve to be approached by anyone.
Silverstein and Kohn’s aim was clearly to create a film about inner beauty and female empowerment but sadly they have created an intensely contradicting movie that will aggravate even the lowest level of feminist. So let’s stop laughing at these jokes and believing that by laughing at someone in a bikini contest who isn’t your normal entrée is funny, it is just damn rude. Everyone deserves to feel pretty, but no one deserves to be subjected by an entire movie theatre because of it.
At the end of the day, I Feel Pretty is a fictional tale with fictional characters, but this cruel behaviour is seen in day to day life all the time. By promoting a film that centers and ultimately capitalises on it, I Feel Pretty is nonetheless adding to the problem, rather than attempting to solve it.