Movie review: 'I Feel Pretty' starts strong but ends with a whimper

Posted at 8:23 AM, Apr 20, 2018

No one can doubt Amy Schumer's total commitment to self-deprecating laughs. Comfortable with camera angles and bulge-targeting zoom-ins that would make any vain actress wince, she is willing to place her own posterior as the butt of any and all jokes. 

"I Feel Pretty" mocks Schumer's weight relentlessly -- well past usual levels of common decency and into overshare mode -- sparking a flood of awkward laughs while supporting an overarching message of body positivity. 

The mentality no doubt stems from a tremendous self-confidence of her comedic prowess and command. Thoroughly comfortable in her skin, Schumer is one of the most dynamic comedians of our generation, in stand-up, on TV sketch comedy and in a burgeoning movie career.

Schumer plays Renee, a self-loathing makeup company underling who gets a boost of self-confidence after suffering a head injury during a spin class. Suddenly, Renee sees herself as Shallow Hal would --  an incomparable beauty brimming with charisma and confidence. Her newfound sense of self-worth opens doors that seemingly seemed closed off to her, and she sashays to success in dating, bikini contests and career mobility. 

The underlying theme is that personality and magnetism turn more heads than looks, and that anyone -- no matter how beautiful on the outside -- can be stymied by insecurities.

While the self-affirming messaging remains strong throughout, the laughs fall to the wayside as the subject material grows more serious and heavy-handed.

Like so many comedies, "I Feel Pretty" is frontloaded with its best material, then fades away as it strains to tie together its wacky story. Unable to sustain the oh-no-she-didn't momentum of "Trainwreck" throughout its nearly two-hour running time, the movie plays out like a tired extended bit from "Inside Amy Schumer."

Likewise, the admirable messaging loses its oomph when the subject material veers away from subtle demonstration and steers hard into clumsy, obvious preaching. The sentiment shifts from "get it girl" to "just get on with it already, girl."

While Schumer hogs most of the laughs, supporting cast members manage to claim some memorable moments. A glammed-up Michelle Williams shines as Renee's haughty, Kardashian-like boss, and Busy Philipps and Aidy Bryant assume befuddled, eye-rolling postures as Renee's ever-annoyed best friends.

"I Feel Pretty" is well worth seeing for Schumer's superfans, and works well as a girl's night or date movie flick while stopping far short of "Trainwreck"-like must-see status. Lower your expectations enough and you'll be in for a good time, especially during the raucous first half.

Laughter, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

RATING: 2.5 stars out of 4