Release date: April 2018
Review, short version: All thumbs down.
Review, long version:
When I started this blog I decided, “I’m qualified to do book reviews because I read a lot of books.”
Can I extrapolate that and say, “I’m qualified to do movie reviews because I watch a lot of movies”?
I can. I will. I do.
The movie is Amy Schumer’s I Feel Pretty, released earlier this year. I was interested in seeing it because I think Amy is frequently funny, and I admire the courage and persistence of people who do stand-up. I especially admire comediennes because they haven’t had an easy time breaking into the very-much-old-boys’ club of stand-up comedy.
And though I think Amy is frequently funny, I didn’t find anything funny about her 2015 movie, Trainwreck.
But give her movies another chance, I thought.
Amy is, after all, not just a comedienne and movie actress; she’s made numerous TV appearances, released albums, videos and a book, is the recipient of many nominations and awards, is currently on a national tour, Amy Schumer and Friends, and she can be funny.
But once again, not – in I Feel Pretty.
I knew the premise going in – Amy plays Renee,
A woman who struggles with feelings of insecurity and inadequacy on a daily basis. After suffering a fall, she wakes up believing she is suddenly the most beautiful and capable woman on the planet.
There is no verbal explanation for Renee’s feelings of insecurity and inadequacy, but the reason is immediately obvious:
Renee doesn’t look like an anorexic, therefore, she is overweight and incapable of being successful at anything.
This message is loud and clear in multiple early scenes:
- While checking in at the gym and getting shoes, she lies three times about her shoe size, and then cringes at asking for “nine, double-wide.” Even her feet are fat.
- In the gym everyone has a buff body but Renee. She’s body shamed without anyone having to say a word.
- At home she surrounds herself with fashion magazines, the covers featuring perfect, thin women – something Renee will never be, which equals failure.
- She goes shopping and is totally humiliated when the saleswoman assumes Renee is looking for a gift – there are no clothes in that store for her horrible body. “You could probably find your size online,” the saleswoman suggests.
- At home Renee undresses in front of a full-length mirror. She’s wearing Spanx – a skintight ribs-to-thigh body shaper – something no magazine cover model would ever need. As Renee looks at herself she tears up and turns away from her reflection.
All this humiliation happened just during the opening credits.
In case you haven’t gotten the message yet, Renee is ashamed of her body.
Not too much further along, in a store Renee encounters a (thin, perfect) woman from the gym. After a guy tries to hit on the woman – but not Renee, whom he calls “Sir” –Renee says,
“I’ve always wondered what it felt like to be undeniably pretty. And just have all those parts in life that just open up to you, that you only get to experience when you look like you.”
Renee finishes this self-inflicted self-shaming with, “I’ll just pray for a miracle.”
Renee’s “miracle” comes in the form of a hard hit to the head, after which she sees her hopelessly awful self as something entirely different:
Slender arms. Slender thighs. Slender all over.
What she’s always dreamed of being.
Again Renee looks in a mirror, but this time says, “I’m beautiful!”
This belief transforms Renee’s life, and the meaning is clear: Thin equals beautiful. And not just beautiful; desirable, charming, amazing, fascinating, admirable, fun, happy, successful, and capable of anything.
At this point I wasn’t even half-way through the movie, but I’d had enough. And I knew where the movie was going:
Through another knock on the head or some other means, Renee will realize that she isn’t thin. At the end she’ll give a boringly predictable speech about how her body is the same, but now her attitude about herself is changed! She can reach for her dreams in spite of her weight!
No more Spanx for her!
I was sickened by the movie’s body-shaming message, but more sickened that Schumer would make a movie with this message:
You must be thin, or at least believe you’re thin, to be beautiful, to succeed and be happy.
Now, once upon a time, Amy Schumer may have been thin, but she isn’t now:
|Amy then…||Amy now.|
She wasn’t thin:
In 2016 when she
- Was nominated for a People’s Choice, a Golden Globe, and numerous other awards.
- Posed nude for the cover of her book, The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo.
In 2017 when she
- Was nominated for two Grammy Awards.
- Filmed I Feel Pretty.
In 2018 when she
- Hosted Saturday Night Live.
- Was nominated for a Tony Award.
- Married Chris Fischer.
Amy Schumer’s life sends a positive message:
You can have a great life without having a thin body.
Why couldn’t her movie have said the same?
To sum it up, after watching enough of this movie…
I Feel Pretty…