Tag Archives: amy schumer

I Feel Pretty

When the trailer for this movie came out several months ago, it hit a wall of backlash. This was NOT the moment for a movie with any kind of body-shaming. It appeared to be about a woman (Amy Schumer) who suffers a head injury and then wakes up believing herself to be beautiful. And since Schumer is already a conventionally pretty person, critics felt this merited a culture-wide eye roll. And while they’re not wrong, they don’t quite have the premise of the movie down pat.

What really happens: yes, there is a head injury that leads to Renee’s believing herself to be beautiful. But nobody is pretending that she wasn’t perfectly fine before – only that she suffered from low self-esteem and didn’t realize this herself. Which is a common enough thing.

So while the backlash may have been inspired by misconceptions, it’s not entirely wrong. Renee gains esteem not by empowerment but by delusion. She gets a new job MV5BNzE2NDUxMzctOWYwNC00MTkxLThkODctOGQwMTI4MzRjM2M3XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNDg2MjUxNjM@._V1_SY1000_SX1500_AL_(at a fashion magazine, working for squeaky-voiced Michelle Williams) and a new boyfriend (the perpetually bearded Rory Scovel) and attributes her newfound success to her newfound beauty. And her actions start to reflect those beliefs: she shames her friends (Busy Philipps, Aidy Bryant) for not emphasizing attractiveness and is less than faithful to her ‘nice’ boyfriend when she gets attention from a ‘hot’ guy. So is this purely a positive message? No it is not. But there’s a good intention somewhere in there about how anyone, no matter how they look (*cough*Emily Ratajkowski*cough*), can suffer from low self-esteem. And it’s confidence, not looks, that actually attract good things your way.

Written and directed in a joint effort by Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein, I can’t help but feel weird about the mixed messages on screen. Like, obviously we’re not supposed to judge a woman’s worth by her looks, and yet we’re encouraged to laugh at Schumer’s “bikini body” as she writhes around on stage. It’s played for laughs. But it’s also pretty powerful commentary if you consider how much that scene makes you uncomfortable. Because societally, we somehow don’t believe that someone who looks anything short of perfection should have body confidence. We shame women for not covering up their flaws. We don’t think that someone who looks like Schumer, who, let’s remember, IS actually living up to conventional beauty standards, even belongs in a beauty pageant or a bikini contest because that’s for one kind of very, very limited beauty that is all but unattainable.

Messaging aside, is this a fun movie to watch? I’d say yes, but it’s inconsistent. I had two REALLY big laughs that I’m ashamed to even admit to, because one was just a computer noise that struck me as totally tragic and genius. But if the message lacks conviction, so do the jokes. In North America, we’ll forgive almost anything if it’s funny enough. I Feel Pretty is not. Sure it doesn’t tell us that looking 19 and weighing less than 120 is the be all and end all, it just tells us that if you’re confident despite those things, it’s funny as hell. Being a woman is tough enough as it is. I just don’t have the 19 year old abs to laugh at this stuff anymore.

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Snatched

This film was dismally received by critics but is not as terrible as you might think. A lot will depend on how you tolerate Amy Schumer. She’s not everyone’s cup of tea. I like her quite a bit, which makes me realize that she’s not anyone’s cup of tea, she’s more like a beloved Jaeger bomb. Some people don’t like or expect raunch from a female comedian but Amy Schumer’s proving that anyone can tell a gross-out joke. Score for feminism? Let’s say yes.

Of course Amy Schumer isn’t some new fangled-thing, she’s riding in on the backs of lots of incredibly funny women and Goldie Hawn is one of them. Hawn hasn’t appeared in a maxresdefaultmovie in 15 years and having her back is a blessing. Pairing these two together is great. It should have been better than great, I’ll grant you that. It should have been phenomenal. But Snatched isn’t ambitious. It’s pretty content to be a so-so movie with a bare-bones plot, some badly-drawn characters, and some overly convenient structures. It’s basically a vehicle for some jokes, and for some shining chemistry between Schumer and Hawn. If you can live with that, then you may just find something to chuckle about in Snatched.

As you may have gathered from the trailer, or heck, even just the poster, Emily (Schumer) gets broken up with right before an nonrefundable trip to Ecuador, and persuades her cautions mum Linda (Hawn) to travel with her. Emily meets a guy who’s too good to be true, and he is! He’s part of a kidnapping ring, and before you can say “maitai”, Emily and her Mom are hog-tied in a blood-splattered cell, begging for their lives, or at least their cell phones back.

The worst I’ll say about the movie is that there’s a lot of missed opportunity. It’s unfocused and flimsy. But Goldie Hawn is still magic. She sparkles up there on the big screen, and it’s kind of cool to see her taking her place as one of the matriarchs of comedy.

Funny People

Are you familiar with the website Funny or Die? It’s a comedy site developed by Adam McKay and Will Ferrell where people upload uproarious videos that get voted on – those not deemed funny are sentenced to death (or at least the site’s “crypt”). The first video I remember seeing was the Landlord skit featuring Farrell and a barb-tongued toddler, but since then tonnes of celebrities have contributed all kinds of crazy stuff. There are no rules in the interweb, and Funny or Die is where famous people let loose. Like, major looseness.

Funny or Die is such a machine now that it’s actually spawned its own comedy festival, dubbed the Oddball Festival, and it’s been running for 3 years now. I happened to catch it during its inaugural run 3 years ago in Chicago when it was co-headlined by Flight of the Conchords (!) and Dave Chappelle in his return to stand-up. The night before we saw him, he was in Hartford, where the audience literally drowned him out with heckling and shouts of “White power!”. Chappelle walked off and then treated us to quite an anti-Hartford diatribe, including his fervent wish that North Korea would bomb Hartford. It was an epic set.

oddballThis year the festival is being co-headlined by Aziz Ansari and Amy Schumer. There’s a million other brilliant comedians on the bill as well (including Jay Pharaoh, Michael Che, and fucking Nick Kroll!) and we’re lucky enough to see all of them. Amy Schumer is having quite a year (if you haven’t read our review of Trainwreck yet, I assure you, we were entertained) but Aziz is our man.

I first came across Aziz Ansari in yet another Judd Apatow movie: Funny People (although in a little dose of kismet, if I’d only been paying attention, he’d previously appeared in an episode of Flight of the Conchords). Adam Sandler plays a movie star who copes with his illness and impending death by returning to his stand-up roots. He enlists the help of Seth Rogan to write jokes and “assist” him. I like this movie for a lot of reasons. Like seeing Sandler do something with some emotional depth. I LOVED seeing baby untitledSandler doing his earliest bits (he and Apatow were actually college roommates, and guess who filmed heaps of footage! – baby Ben Stiller and Janeane Garofalo also appear, if you squint). I loved Jason Schwartzman as a sleazy sitcom star, and Jonah Hill as a competitive bitch, and Eric Bana popping up in this after the little ode to Eric Bana in Apatow’s Knocked Up was just the shit, and I really REALLY loved this explosive unknown stand-up act who steals scenes: Aziz Ansari. Well, technically, not Aziz. Aziz developed a character named Randy for the film, but found him to be so well-liked and compelling that he’d often slip into the Randy stuff during his own shows.

Aziz doesn’t do a lot of movies but you may know him as Tom on Parks and Recreation (or will no doubt come to know him through his upcoming Netflix series, Master of None). He did make small appearances in Get Him to the Greek, 30 Minutes or Less (funniest part of the movie, if you ask me), and This is the End, proving just how incestuous the Apatow crew is (and for good measure, he’s also appeared on The League, and The Kroll Show). It’s a small world and Aziz Ansari is getting closer and closer to owning it.

We’ve seen Aziz before and love love love his stand-up. In fact, we saw him serendipitously last month at the Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal (where we also saw Chappelle). That particular night we were actually there to see Alan Cumming, who was fabulous, but got wind of a surprise pop-up show by Ansari, who wasn’t scheduled to appear. Turns out, he was working on material for the Oddball show and wanted a test audience. It was extremely polished for a so-called dry run, and funny as hell, so we’re totally primed to see him again this weekend, and with so much other talent, there’s no way we can lose.

Which funny people are your favs?

Trainwreck

Before watching Trainwreck, I did not know who Amy Schumer was (though Jay assures me I have watched some of her standup). Now, after watching Trainwreck on Saturday, we are binge watching all three seasons of Inside Amy Schumer, her Comedy Central show. I feel like the fact we wanted to see more is a ringing endorsement of Ms. Schumer’s brand of comedy, and thus an endorsement of this movie. Because she carries this movie and she is more than up to the task.

She’s not alone though.  There are lots of really good performances here.  Especially LeBron James.  Now as you may know, LeBron is on our shit list because he decided to skip last year’s Cleveland/OKC matchup that happened to be my birthday present (ironically because of a sore knee).  So this praise is very grudgingly given, but his portrayal of himself is probably the second funniest character in the movie.  I wish he had been given more screen time.

Also hilarious is John Cena as Amy’s sort-of boyfriend.  His movie theatre confrontation is probably the funniest scene in the movie.  There are certainly other funny parts but as Jay reminded me, Judd Apatow seems to focus on drawing out funny character stuff rather than trying to cram a scene full of laughs.  And I think that works here.

The only thing that doesn’t work is Amy’s love for Bill Hader’s sports doctor.  We never really see why he’s so awesome, which is a shame.  Especially because it seems the reason we don’t see/feel the connection between the leads is that Bill Hader is so restrained.  He seems to be actually acting, which I kind of feel bad criticizing him for.  It’s not that he’s bad, not at all, but it feels off when John Cena and LeBron James are making me laugh more than Bill Hader.

That’s really my only complaint about the movie.  Trainwreck is not quite great but it’s very good.  It’s been an excellent summer movie season and this is one of the best comedies so far (right up there for me with Spy and Inside Out).  That’s why Trainwreck gets a score of eight athlete cameos out of ten.