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Film Review: I Feel Pretty

Written by: Victoria Alexander | April 28th, 2018

Film Poster: I Feel Pretty
Film Poster: I Feel Pretty

The Inside Doesn’t Count Unless the Outside is Beautiful. Are we really going to say that “looks don’t matter” in today’s culture? I read the U.K.’s Daily Mail Online and every day the Kardashians/Jenners and Emily Ratajkowski post nude photos of themselves on their social media accounts. I know, its self-promotion for a high-paying slot during yachting season but it’s also advertising that promotes nakedness, constructed facial features and extreme thinness. These are the de rigueur assets for being recognized as beautiful. And there are benefits.

And if you were not born beautiful, but have unlimited resources, you can follow the lead of facial-alteration pioneer,Khloé Kardashian. Khloé struggled with her appearance from day one, mainly because of being bullied at school. She once said she suffered years of abuse and was tormented for being “ugly” and “fat.” She said: “I’ve been bullied, basically, my entire life.” Khloé, through the kind of will and determination that made men conquerors, has re-designed her body.

Amy Schumer, the star of I FEEL PRETTY, knows what it is like to be average-looking. She’s not 110lbs with a perfect nose and razor-sharp cheekbones. Instead, she channeled her energy in being funny, creative, and daring. Schumer’s sexy confidence is seductive, but she will never make Maxim’s 2018 “Hot 100” list. Everything the writers-directors, Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein, present here is true. No matter how crass, mean-spirited, and downright offensive it is to say, who can deny that being beautiful holds an important status in our society.

According to a study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology in fall 2010 titled, “When It Comes to Pay, Do the Thin Win? The Effect of Weight on Pay for Men and Women,” a woman’s weight can have a significant impact on her earnings. In 2010, the study showed that (1)“Very thin” women earned approximately $22,000 more than their average weight counterparts.(2)“Thin” women earned a little over $7,000 more than their average weight counterparts. (3)“Heavy” and “Very Heavy” women lost over $9,000 and almost $19,000, respectively, than their average weight counterparts.

Renee Bennett (Schumer) is just an average woman in her thirties. Renee lives in Manhattan and is constantly being ignored and is less valued because she is overweight and flabby with mismatched facial features. Renee does have fantastic hair. She suffers from the indifference she gets. Well, she should move to the mid-West. Everyone knows New York and Hollywood are obsessed with youth and beauty. No one over 40 lives in Manhattan unless they have a rent-controlled apartment they cannot give up.  

Renee’s 2 best friends Vivian (Aidy Bryant) and Jane (Busy Phillips) are also not very successful at dating. Vivian is short and very fat. Jane looks as if she is in the grip of some kind of chemical withdrawal. Renee does know it is her lack of fitness and self-confidence. She works in a basement selling cosmetics online. Her ideal dream job is working as a receptionist for CEO Avery LeClaire’s (Michele Williams) cosmetic empire at the Fifth Avenue headquarters. Every woman at the company is anorexic and monosyllabic. Did I mention that being monosyllabic is also a defining feature of the vaunted beautiful?

Fayum Mummies
Fayum Mummies

A large cache of mummies was found in the Fayum oasis. Each sarcophagi had a highly realistic portrait – supposedly – of the person inside. Yet few of the Fayum images show elderly men and women; a large proportion, conversely, depict healthy-looking boys and girls who stand at the cusp of adulthood. The belief of ancient Egyptians was that images could influence the forms that souls took in the afterlife. Mummy portraits were very carefully created not as facsimiles of real people, but as ideals. They show the faces in which, their subjects hoped, they would live on in an equally ideal eternity.

Renee decides to join a spin cycle class and meets gorgeous Mallory (Emily Ratajkowski). Mallory is so thin her mouth has eaten her face. Renee asks Emily if it’s true that being so beautiful means its Cote d’Azur in July and nude sunbathing at Platja de ses Salines in September? If only she looked like Emily!

As the trailer and TV spots show, Renee falls off the bike and hits her head. When she gets up, she firmly believes she is beautiful. And here is where I FEEL PRETTY turns clever and begins its positive message. Renee, now beautiful, flaunts her beauty. She thinks everyone is looking at her. The world belongs to Renee.

“And beauty is a form of genius— is higher, indeed, than genius, as it needs no explanation. It is of the great facts of the world, like sunlight, or spring-time, or the reflection in dark waters of that silver shell we call the moon. It cannot be questioned. It has its divine right of sovereignty. It makes princes of those who have it.”  The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde.

Film Image: I Feel Pretty
Film Image: I Feel Pretty

When she meets Ethan (Rory Scovel), behind her at the dry cleaners, she immediately thinks he is hitting on her. She can only hear her own thoughts. Renee is so confident that she overwhelms an astonished Ethan. He goes along only because Renee is unlike any other woman. Her belief in her beauty is an all-encompassing vortex. Her imperial confidence in herself is hypnotic.

The new Renee goes to the LeClair and applies for a job as the receptionist. The staff is appalled – you know the type – they always look like they smell something bad. They exude indifference. If Jesus walked in for an appointment, they would make him take a seat and wait.

Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? Does beauty vary by race, culture or era? The evidence, however, shows that our perception of physical beauty is hard wired into our being and based on how closely the features of one’s face reflect phi in their proportions. The Golden Ratio appears extensively in the human face.

When Renee gives her opinion to Avery’s over-bearing mother, Lily LeClair (Lauren Hutton), about what ladies really want in drugstore cosmetics, she gets the job. Now a member of the hip set, Renee begins to treat Vivian and Jane with the same kind of dismissive attitude as everyone else has.

Its Renee’s relationship with Ethan that is really funny, especially how concerned he is when she wants to join the bikini contest. You’ve got to give it to Schumer, she lets it all hang out.

Film Image: I Feel Pretty
Film Image: I Feel Pretty

Is Schumer telling the truth about how beauty is exalted as the only thing that matters? It is the truth, so be it.

All the women in the movie are extremely thin and weird-looking. Renee’s idol, Avery, has a slew of insecurities fueled by her grandmother. She has a high-pitched voice and a slight stutter.

Schumer shows a considerable lack of vanity and is true to the part. She has developed strong acting skills evidenced here. If there are any complaints about the glorification of beauty, it is because we are uncomfortable admitting it is true. In a fair and non-judgmental world, where everyone was equal, being beautiful would not matter.

The average height and weight of women varies around the world, but in the United States in 2010, the average adult female height was 63.8 inches (approximately 5 feet 4 inches) and 166.2 pounds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ratajkowski does not look her best neither does Phillips. In the same vein as HALLOW HAL, it’s the redemption of the leading character you wait for. Will Renee finally recognize that looks don’t matter? We are left confident in knowing Renee wakes up to the ideal that it is not looks, but the way you feel about yourself that is key.

I would add, if being beautiful is not your best trait, work on charisma and charm everyone you meet.


Member of Las Vegas Film Critics Society: Victoria Alexander lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, and answers every email at For a complete list of Victoria Alexander's movie reviews on Rotten Tomatoes go to: Victoria Alexander contributes to Films in Review (, Film Festival Today ( and Las Vegas Informer (

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