Amy Schumer In 'I Feel Pretty': Beauty And A Bump On The Head Amy Schumer stars in the new comedy about a woman whose freak accident fills her with confidence in what she believes to be her magically altered appearance.
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Beauty And A Bump On The Head In 'I Feel Pretty'

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Beauty And A Bump On The Head In 'I Feel Pretty'

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Beauty And A Bump On The Head In 'I Feel Pretty'

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

In the new Amy Schumer comedy "I Feel Pretty," a woman who thinks she's unattractive hits her head and wakes up believing she's the most gorgeous woman in the world. NPR pop culture correspondent Linda Holmes says while the movie might seem to be part of a tradition of ugly duckling stories, it says something more complicated about confidence.

LINDA HOLMES, BYLINE: Many years ago at a party where I was very drunk, I asked a woman I knew what it was like to be pretty. Why? Because I was curious. What did she say? That it wasn't all it was cracked up to be. In "I Feel Pretty," a woman named Renee wonders what it would be like too. Played by Amy Schumer, she tries and tries to make herself look the way she wishes she did. It doesn't help that she works at a high-end Manhattan cosmetics company, a perfect place to feed her insecurities. One day after she hits her head during a SoulCycle class, she discovers her dreams have come true. She looks in the mirror, and she's shocked.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "I FEEL PRETTY")

AMY SCHUMER: (As Renee) Look at me. Look at my jawline.

HOLMES: The catch is that nobody else sees what Renee sees. She looks the same to them. But to herself, she's unrecognizable.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "I FEEL PRETTY")

SCHUMER: (As Renee) You guys, it's me - Renee.

HOLMES: When the trailer first came out, there was some grumbling about it. Was it implying that Amy Schumer, as she is, is ugly? Was it implying that she's fat? Was it implying that she can learn to love herself only when she's transformed into a more beautiful person? Well, no, because Renee's looks aren't transformed, only her perspective on them. Complicated feelings about your looks are really common, but the closest most Hollywood movies get to thinking about them is the makeover scene. It goes something like this - a mousy woman with glasses and grubby clothes releases her inner cover model, which is very convenient for a love interest who's been overlooking her for too long. Suddenly, love blooms.

Renee does not get a makeover, except in her own mind. In fact, the film never shows you what she sees when she looks in the mirror. The conceit behind the story is that even when her looks don't change at all, feeling different makes her different. She meets a nice guy in line at the dry cleaners not because he's hitting on her, but because when he makes conversation by asking what ticket number she's holding, her newfound swagger makes her think he's angling for her phone number.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "I FEEL PRETTY")

SCHUMER: (As Renee) That is very clever.

RORY SCOVEL: (As Ethan) I don't know why that's - what is clever? I'm just asking about the number.

SCHUMER: (As Renee) What's your number? And then I go, 118. And then you're like, no, your phone number.

SCOVEL: (As Ethan) Oh.

SCHUMER: (As Renee) Yeah. You are good. How long you been hanging on to that little nugget?

SCOVEL: (As Ethan) I haven't. I haven't been holding on to that. That's not a nugget at all.

SCHUMER: (As Renee) Do you hang out in a lot of dry cleaners and hit on perfect girls (laughter)?

HOLMES: Amy Schumer is funny in this movie. So is a surprising turn from Oscar nominee Michelle Williams, playing a squeaky-voiced cosmetics executive with insecurities of her own. Renee's best friends are played by Busy Philipps and Aidy Bryant, both of whom are hugely reliable best friend types. "I Feel Pretty" is written and directed by Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein, who have a history in romantic comedy.

It's mostly just sweet and corny as a muffin. There's a whole male character who's completely unnecessary. The movie has its problems. But it's trying to be about something that very few films are about, which is internalizing the mystical power of beauty so much that just your belief in it can change your behavior. So no, it's not saying that Amy Schumer is ugly or fat, or that anybody else is. What it's saying is that what's holding Renee back isn't her looks. It's her feelings about them. After all, I'm told even being pretty isn't all it's cracked up to be. I'm Linda Holmes.

(SOUNDBITE OF DAVE BRUBECK'S "I FEEL PRETTY")

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