Saturday, 5 May 2018

I Feel Pretty

In 1988 Penny Marshall made Big. 30 years later it's still a highly entertaining film and Tom Hanks is just brilliant in it. It's the story of someone not happy with themselves and wishing to be different and when they get what they desire they find out it's not all it's made out to be. I Feel Pretty owes a pretty damn massive debt to Big and we even see a clip of that film in this. Like Big it boasts an excellent lead performance but a few odd decisions mean it's just not the same quality.

On paper Renee Bennett is living the dream. She lives in Manhattan. She has solid friends that she can rely on and she works for a make up company she adores. In reality she hates herself and her job is deeply unsatisfying. All she wants is to be beautiful and confident like her boss and the models who advertise her company's make up. One day during a burst of self improvement she has an accident and wakes up feeling ultra confident. But ultra confidence has it's downsides too.

I liked this but it's not all successful. Parts of it soar but a lot of it falls on it's arse too. It's a story all about learning to accept yourself and your body that feels the need to constantly make fun of it's leading lady and her looks. Mixed messages like this dilute the importance of its message straight away. It's painfully silly in places and really struggles to fill a needlessly overlong running time. When will Hollywood remember that it's a rare comedy that needs to be over 100 minutes. It also asks us to believe that Amy Schumer is ugly. She's not, she's far from it but because she isn't a size zero like other actresses we are asked to believe her appearance will make babies cry (this actually happens). It's an overused and pretty offensive movie trope that needs to be put down.

But Amy Schumer is a super lead. She's funny and she's fearless and not afraid to let her face fill the frame. In the earlier parts of the film she's instantly recognisable to anyone who struggles with insecurity and as things take off for her she's a joy to watch. As we've previously seen in her other film Trainwreck she's not averse to being unlikeable either and although this 12A film smoothes off the edges we know she's capable off she'll still manages to make you cringe in the right places. She saves the film. In less confident hands this could have went totally arseways.

The film's heart is in the right place too, mixed signals aside. It shows the pressures placed on women by society to look and act a certain way and the doubt that comes with not living up to perceived ideals. Even the characters who you think have it together are shown to be struggling. Michelle William's character Avery is a prime example of this btw, overcoming what is initially a very comic facade to become a rounded person and Williams is as always excellent. The men in the film are shown to be facing their own struggles too btw. It's a small touch but a notable one as we aren't usually allowed to have feelings or show self doubt.

I Feel Pretty is not a bad film at all, but it's one hobbled by it trying to have it's cake and eat it too in regard to its treatment of its main character. Amy Schumer though is great and well worth watching.

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