'I Feel Pretty' Reviews Round-Up: Critics Have An Ugly Reaction To Amy Schumer's Body-Image Comedy

I Feel Pretty sparked all kinds of controversy when its trailer first debuted, with critics accusing the comedy of fat-shaming. But star Amy Schumer refuted the backlash. Wait until you see the movie, she insisted, promising that I Feel Pretty was actually an empowering movie about self-confidence.

Well, critics have seen the movie. And a lot of them have the same opinions as they did when the trailer first arrived.

The I Feel Pretty reviews were not really feeling the Amy Schumer body-image comedy, with many criticizing the film for being a shallow interpretation of female empowerment.

Pajiba reviewer and /Filmcast co-host Kristy Puchko gave a blistering review of I Feel Pretty, saying that the film is "even worse than you're expecting":

I Feel Pretty is intended as a sort of afterschool special about the value of self-love. But it's hard to take this message to heart when so much of the film is dedicated to mocking Renee for her bravado. Schumer said in an interview with Vulture that the movie never states that its heroine sees herself as skinnier. But it certainly suggests it.

The Wrap's Inkoo Kang calls I Feel Pretty "despicable lesson in self-love," adding:

We're meant to identify with Renee as the woman-next-door gaslighted into thinking she's an ogre. But Renee is also written as a monstrous egomaniac and a painfully basic bitch, two archetypes that Schumer often plays. The script's tone-deafness reaches a particularly low point when Renee signs up for a grubby bikini contest at a dank bar on a first date, sticks her finger into a stranger's mouth — and her good-guy plus-one (Rory Scovel, "The House") finds her wannabe-stripper antics charming and seductive. Self-love and body acceptance have seldom smelled so much like stale beer.

Deadline's Pete Hammond dinged the film for being a tired rehash of Big and other body-switch makeover films:

It is all very predictable stuff and yes the laughs are there, but they're relatively mild when they probably should have been guffaws. There is nothing terribly fresh about this makeover tale which has been told since Cinderella met that Fairy Godmother, but the twist is the only real makeover  on display here is simply attitude, not looks.

The Guardian's Benjamin Lee praises Schumer's all-out performance, but blames the movie's PG-13 rating for making I Feel Pretty feel like a half-hearted comedy:

While there's clear comic potential in the setup, especially with Schumer's bravado and willingness to indulge in physical comedy, the film never quite mines the laughter that it should. There's a spikiness absent from the script, a stultifying lack of killer one-liners, and what makes this even more wasteful is that one knows from watching Schumer's show that she could have written something far more effective herself. It has the feel of a rough draft, as if it's waiting for a script doctor to add in the funny bits. It's also a shame to see Schumer hemmed in by the family-friendly PG-13 rating, rather like watching Melissa McCarthy unable to riff quite so rudely in Ghostbusters.

Vox's Alissa Wilkinson accuses I Feel Pretty of being a "one-note comedic premise" that unfairly "strands" its star:

But a good message goes nowhere without a good movie, and unfortunately, the faults of I Feel Pretty are hard to ignore. There's a potentially funny movie in here somewhere. But it lumbers along, wasting some of its greatest assets and, in the end, overstaying its welcome.

Empire's Ian Freed addressed the initial backlash to the I Feel Pretty trailer, saying that the film is well-intentioned, if misguided:

The broad, fitfully funny finished film proves the outrage both right and wrong: while it does ultimately deliver life lessons of empowerment coming from within, it also plays on perceptions of Schumer's appearance for misguided laughs (witness a lengthy erotic dance set-piece) and stirs up a hornets' nest of issues around body shaming, privilege (Schumer is white, affluent, attractive) and beauty ideals that it fails to reconcile within its comedic, almost fairy-tale tone.

The Village Voice's Bilge Ebiri posits that I Feel Pretty wastes its high-concept premise and the talents of Schumer with low-brow humor:

Indeed, I wondered at a couple of points whether this high-concept pitch was just a lure, and if the filmmakers were actually more interested in an earnest exploration of their subject — à la the famous bait-and-switch of the Vince Vaughn–Jennifer Aniston domestic drama The Break-Up. But, no, that'd be giving I Feel Pretty too much credit and would demand overlooking a lot of failed, unimaginative attempts at humor; wanting to have it both ways, the creators claim an uninspired middle-ground stranded between serious and funny. Schumer remains likable, and the film has its moments, but there are so many excellent opportunities here for poignant cringe comedy that more often than not I Feel Pretty feels like a missed opportunity — and a slow, ponderous one at that.

But a few reviewers took more kindly to I Feel Pretty. Vulture's Emily Yoshida argues that I Feel Pretty "works fine if you don't think too hard about it." She particularly praises the supporting performances from Schumer's love interest played by Rory Scovel and Schumer's glamorous boss played by the scene-stealing Michelle Williams:

The stuff with Scovel is the strongest in the film, funny and inspiring and even a little sexy. The work plot, which sees Renee transfer to the supermodel-filled headquarters and become a trusted adviser as an "ordinary girl," doesn't work so well, if only because it relies much more heavily on the "but you're a pig" jokes. The exception is Michelle Williams, giving far and away the funniest performance in the film as Renee's new boss. Her Avery LeClaire is the anti-Miranda Priestly, a piece of Kleenex personified, somewhere between Gwyneth Paltrow and that crying ghost in the Harry Potter movies that lives in the bathroom.

Indiewire's David Ehrlich was perhaps the most taken with I Feel Pretty, if only because of Williams' "all-time performance in an average movie":

This is the part when we pause to talk about Michelle Williams, who plays fashion heiress Avery LeClair like a live-action anime character. Dropping an all-time performance into an average movie, Williams wears an ice-cold Miranda Priestly vibe as a shield to deflect attention from her character's squeaky little doll voice. It's a symptom of terrible self-doubt, one that leaves Avery so preoccupied with how she sounds that she doesn't bother to think about what she says. Every line slays. "I thought I smelled animal products," she coos to Renee upon finding her in the cafeteria. Also, she's wearing a dress embroidered with golden retrievers at the time. The race for Best Supporting Actress starts here.

USA Today's Brian Truitt was also favorable toward I Feel Pretty, saying it wasn't as strong as Trainwreck, which Schumer wrote and starred in, but that its third act brings the film together:

Schumer doesn't reach quite the highs of her Trainwreck work — that movie perfectly nailed a happy medium between comedy and drama, while Pretty leans dour early on until Renee has her epic spin-cycle fail. But everything, from narrative momentum to Schumer's own performance, picks up afterward: There's a definite satisfaction watching supermodel types squirm when they can't derail Renee's cheery blind confidence, and her courtship with Ethan is a riot of mixed messages and bikini contests.


So while most critics had some pretty ugly reactions to I Feel Pretty, others dismissed it as a harmless broad female-led comedy with strong supporting performances. At the very least, you can see Michelle Williams doing her very best Miranda Priestley while wielding a breathy, "anime" voice.

I Feel Pretty opens in theaters on April 20, 2018.