On Chris Rock’s Bigger and Blacker special, one of his more memorable bits describes our general unhappiness with ourselves. “We live in a society where no one likes who the f*ck they are. Nobody likes who the f*ck they are — except fat black women. Fat black women don’t give a f*ck what you think. She’s going out on Friday night. She got an outfit on. That shit match. She’s like, ‘I’m sexy. I am sex-y, yes, I am! I am the sexiest motherf*cker here tonight!'”
The plot of the new Amy Schumer vehicle I Feel Pretty, written and directed by rom-com veterans Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein, is that fashion-and-beauty-obsessed Renee Bennett (Schumer) begins the movie as your average, hating-the-f*ck-she-is American, but, through the magic of high concept, becomes the equivalent of Chris Rock’s proverbial fat black woman — who knows she’s sexy and doesn’t care what you think. It relies on body-swap movie tropes to ask what it’d be like if you could become your ideal self through simple self-delusion, a sort of Shallow Hal turned inward.
I Free Pretty is surprisingly resonant for a high concept light comedy, offering all the catharsis of watching someone truly discover herself and own it, as well as the awkwardness and pain of watching someone needlessly tear herself down and self-sabotage. Have you ever been in a room with someone while they list off all their perceived inadequacies? It’s the most uncomfortable feeling in the world. Or experienced the magnetism of someone supremely comfortable in their own skin? It’s wonderful. I Feel Pretty offers both, and it’s a bit of an emotional roller coaster.