Beauty is in the eye of the beholder who falls way too hard off a stationary bike in I Feel Pretty, a loose-cannon comedy about an attractive blond woman who longs to be…a more attractive blond woman. Amy Schumer stars as Renee, a 30ish New Yorker who believes she’s doomed to a life of low-grade disappointment until a fateful smashup in a SoulCycle class leaves her magically (or at least concussively) transformed: Gazing back at her from the mirror is the knockout she’s always longed to be.
Suddenly the girl who felt ignored in bars, humiliated by YouTube hair tutorials, and stonewalled at work has unleashed her inner goddess; no man can resist her, no carb can harm her. With her newfound confidence, she even meets a nice guy (Rory Scovel) and smizes her way into a front-desk reception job at high-end cosmetics company Lily LeClair — home of her idol, the brand’s glamorous scion and CEO Avery (a breathy, brilliant Michelle Williams, who looks like a sun-starved Barbie and talks like a sexy toddler). But Renee’s new perfect-10 persona also alienates her from her two happily ordinary best friends (Busy Philipps and SNL’s Aidy Bryant).
If a smart, funny takedown of the absurd physical standards modern women are held to sounds like a great idea, it is — or it was, in instantly iconic Inside Amy Schumer sketches like “Last F—able Day” and the Emmy-winning “Girl, You Don’t Need Makeup.” But Pretty feels like a sketch in a different way. As Renee careens from wry likability (in one scene she nearly wins a bikini contest on wit alone, which is like getting a teenage boy to actually read Playboy for the articles) to oblivious brat (she ruins a promising triple date with her hair-flipping narcissism), the movie loses its ballast too, zigging between banana-peel slapstick and teachable-moment cliché. There’s also something depressing about Schumer playing off her own looks as if, without the abracadabra of her bonked-head delusions, she were some sort of hideous gremlin. Magician, heal thyself. C+