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I Feel Pretty film review – Fitfully amusing, but surprisingly mainstream

I Feel Pretty film review – Fitfully amusing, but surprisingly mainstream
07 May
5:06

This was back in 2010 when his film Bridesmaids had become the surprise hit of the year. Risk-averse Hollywood, he told me, would now be forced to accept that audiences can handle raucous, female-led comedies.

Funny women would be let off the leash. No longer would they have to settle for playing the adorable kook in cheesy rom-coms. Sadly, this revolution never quite materialised.

Kristen Wiig, his brilliant lead, was last seen playing Matt Damon’s cowardly wife in Downsizing.

Rebel Wilson has become the Pitch Perfect series’ one-woman roly-poly routine and it looks like Melissa McCarthy’s Life Of The Party, the third film made with less talented director husband Ben Falcone, won’t be screening for critics.

Cameron Diaz, meanwhile, has had to face up to the fact that she’s now too old to play the kook. With no other offers forthcoming she has announced her retirement at the grand old age of 45.

Funny women may be getting more screen time but you get the feeling none of the big studios knows quite what do with them. The fitfully amusing, but surprisingly mainstream, I Feel Pretty suggests an uncertain future also lies ahead for Schumer.

If you’ve seen her envelope-shredding TV show and her riotous self-written movie Trainwrecked, you’ll know she’s one of the smartest and most outrageous comics of her generation.

But after her lame kidnap caper Snatched, she’s taken the lead role in a body swap comedy from Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein – the writing/ directing duo behind the cutting-edge hits He’s Just Not That Into You and Valentine’s Day.

The US comic plays Renee, a New Yorker who is suffering from low esteem – possibly because of her bizarre belief that only the rakethin can be happy.

She does unfulfilling online work for Lily LeClaire, a highbrow New York make-up firm run by helium-voiced superwaif Avery LeClaire (Michelle Williams), but dreams of taking a pay cut to work as a receptionist in head office.

This is because all the previous receptionists looked like supermodels. Then an accident at a spin class turns her life upside down. After banging her bonce on an exercise bike, Renee is convinced she’s the most beautiful woman in the world.

“I look Kardashian – one of the Jenner ones!” she trills at the mirror.

There’s a very funny scene where she assumes an unassuming chap (Rory Shovel) is hitting on her and bullies him into taking her out.

To his horror she enters a bar’s bikini contest which she nearly wins by performing a strangely endearing erotic dance. Her new-found confidence also makes her a big hit at work.

After Renee bags the receptionist’s chair, Avery starts consulting her on a new down-market “diffusion line”.

But before an inevitable second bump brings her back to Earth (come on, we all know it’s coming), she needs to learn a couple of life lessons.

After abandoning her loyal pals (Aidy Bryant and Busy Philipps) – the cardinal sin of the chick flick – she realises that friendship is more important than a glitzy party.

And when a model (Emily Ratajkowski) tells her she has her own self-esteem issues, she finally twigs that beauty won’t lead to happiness.

As is often the case in films of this ilk, a moral is hammered home in a big inspirational speech at the end. Looks aren’t important, Renee tells us, if women believe in themselves they can achieve anything.

It’s a decent enough message even if the waters are slightly muddied by the fact it’s being delivered at a cosmetics launch.

With her formidable talent for slapstick this was always going to raise a few laughs but you get the feeling that an edgy comic has been forced into a very square hole.

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