Bianca Rowena was born in Romania and now lives in Canada. She is the author of The Virgin Diaries and The Gift Stone YA book series.
It's been while since I've seen a lighthearted movie like I Feel Pretty. When the trailer came out I immediately resolved to go see it. Finally, a witty movie with a positive message. And that's mostly what I got when I went to see it.
I wasn't aware of the backlash the movie was getting, which started even before it was in theaters and only the trailer had been released. My daughter (who is 12) had the same insight that many other girls were having about this film. She said "this movie doesn't work, because the girl is already pretty and she isn't fat. But they're saying she is. Then she hits her head and thinks she's beautiful, but she was never ugly in the first place."
This insight, which inspired a lot of angry tweets (more about the backlash here on racked.com) made me sad, especially hearing it from my daughter first. Why hadn't I thought of this? She definitely had a point. If Amy Schumer was being cast as an 'unattractive, overweight' girl, then how should a legitimately full-bodied, unconventional looking girl feel about how she looks? Has society set the bar way too high for what is considered pretty? Wasn't Amy Schumer pretty right from the start?
But I won't go further into this particular issue. I did enjoy I Feel Pretty for what it was: a fun, not-too-serious, romantic comedy. It was easy to engage in and Amy Schumer did a great job playing the role she was cast in. The script was what you'd expect from a light Rom Com (no unwelcome surprises) and there were plenty of funny moments. And yes, there was romance! But unfortunately, as critics have already pointed out, the film didn't reach its full potential, although it made a decent effort.
Amy Schumer puts out so much energy in “I Feel Pretty” that it’s hard not to feel charged up, too. The movie is seriously suboptimal, but she is such a force for good — for comedy, for women — and the laughs land often enough that you can go, if somewhat begrudgingly, with the messy flow
— The New York Times
Ethan (Rory Scovel, shown above), Renee's newfound love interest, was definitely a highlight of the film. You can't help but like him. He's a genuine guy who gives the offbeat Renee a chance to befriend him, despite her over-enthusiastic confidence when they first meet. As well, Grant LeClair (cosmetic company president Avery LeClair's brother) was great eye-candy for the romantics.
I even found myself teary-eyed by the film's message, but not where I was intended to become emotional, which was at the end 'speech' Renee gives, in which she admonishes her audience that we shouldn't care what we look like. I would have rather she said that we shouldn't care what others think about what we look like.
I don't believe 'caring what you look like' is a bad thing. It can be important in many aspects of life, job interviews, attracting like-minded friends, self-respect, self-expression, dignity, personal pride, etc. But I did appreciate the film's attempt at saying looks aren't everything and attitude matters.
So then where did I get teary eyed in this movie? During the first half, when Renee, now seeing herself as beautiful, was so happy! She was enjoying each day in a new light. The reactions of those around her didn't all change, she still had snobby girls looking down at her for not being model material, but her reaction to them changed. Instead of responding with shame or anger, as before, Renee was simply oblivious to their reactions. I suppose I got teary-eyed because I wished all girls could have this assurance, this ability to not internalize the judgement or animosity of others.
The bikini-contest-in-a-bar scene made me lament how much fun girls miss out on simply because of self judgement or low self-confidence. It may not be a bikini contest you wish you could enter, but what about a job position you didn't apply for because you didn't feel worthy of it, or a man you want to date whom you feel undeserving of?
So that is why I got teary-eyed at the 'fun' part of this film, when Renee had this sudden positive self-awareness. It was moving to see how it opened up her enjoyment of life and gave her the confidence to grasp opportunities she wouldn't have in the past. Her positive attitude also allowed her to hit on Ethan with no reservations and start a relationship with him, without any self-consciousness holding her back.
Critics Consensus: I Feel Pretty has a charming star and the outline of a worthwhile comedy -- but unlike its suddenly confident central character, it suffers from a fundamental lack of conviction.
— Rotten Tomatoes 34% rating
I would like to give credit to the script for protraying insecurities of "highly attractive" girls too, like the model-looking young lady who Renee talks to at the fitness center. The girl had just been dumped and felt insecure about being labelled as 'dumb' simply because of her good looks, not to mention the issue of only being liked by guys for her body. That's a real issue too! And then there was Avery LeClair, president of a massive makeup line, who was insecure about her high voice. We all have insecurities.
Yet the film had a fundamental flawed assumption, that Renee's insecurities would all be gone as soon as she believed she was attractive and thinner. I allowed myself to overlook this, for the sake of enjoying the movie. But unfortunately, becoming more attractive, getting a bigger house, marrying that certain guy, or becoming famous, doesn't necessarily take away one's insecurities. Insecurities run deep and they're rarely remedied by things on the outside.
The Romantic Meter
So was 'I Feel Pretty' romantic? Yes! Not Titanic-level romantic, but cute-romantic. There was an adorable kissing scene (spoiler) in which Ethan asks Renee if he can kiss her. A bit cheesy, but still romantic. As well, the locations, like the Move-In-The-Park date, the dry-cleaners where they first met (as seen in the movie trailer) and the city the movie was set in, New York, the epitome of romantic cities; these settings lent to an overall romantic feel the film.
There was a fair share of cheesy lines, which I didn't mind at all, like when Ethan says to Renee, "When I grow up, I want to be just like you." How adorable is that?
I give this movie a romantic score of six. If you don't set your expectations too high (the trailer covered almost all of the films best punchlines by the way) and if you are in the mood for an upbeat, non-serious movie to shut your brain off after a long day at work, something with a bit of romance and a bit of comedy, then you'll likely enjoy "I Feel Pretty."
Bianca Rowena (author) from Canada on May 23, 2018:
Thanks Dina! And I agree, we sometimes forget the insecurities of thin women, which I am becoming more aware of now that I have a tween daughter, who is as thin as her father (quite thin) yet the insecurities she has are just as prevalent as with any other girls her age, of all different sizes.
Dina AH from United States on April 29, 2018:
Bianca, your approach to this film was nuanced and respectful of the warring sides. You got yourself a follower right here! Because of my health, I don't go to movie theaters but I was still intrigued by the premise of this story. I am all for curvy/plus size girls getting their time to shine in the media. But I do not like that the film conflates positive body image with thinness. It's definitely something that can send a negative message to viewers, particularly younger viewers. But, it's nice that the film did include the insecurities of thin women.