Self-confidence and the lack thereof is an evergreen issue and the body-positivity movement hasn’t completely erased low self-esteem, but I found myself wondering who this movie was for. The message isn’t bad in theory (love yourself and you can do anything), but it’s crammed into a messy, retrograde plot that does a disservice to any nibble of authenticity one might be able to find. Not all of it is terrible and some of it, when Schumer is allowed to fully inhabit her shtick, comes off funny.


There are relatable moments, too: anyone who has ever been intimidated by a boutique fitness class seemingly full of flexible Instagram influencers will relate to Renee’s panic at her first SoulCycle class. Renee’s insecurities are, on some level, very real. But we’re expected to believe that she’s the kind of person society deems irretrievably unattractive and that, I’m sorry to say, is not the case. The trouble is that none of the characters are fleshed out, making it hard to root for anyone. Michelle Williams, as Avery, is a tremulous baby deer and very, very funny; her icy perfection seems like it would be a foil for Renee’s more folksy charm, but really, nothing happens there. As Renee’s friends, Bryant and Phillips are just there to prove that a woman as immature and obsessed as Renee is still likable enough to even have friends.

Much of the movie’s implied laughs come from the way the world reacts to a possibly concussed Renee who thinks she’s hot. On her first date with Ethan, Renee enters a bikini contest, clad in jean shorts and a white t shirt, pulled up and looped through the neckline. Though her performance ultimately wins over the crowd (because of her audacity? We’ll never know); to start there are boos, stunned silence, and, most confusingly, Ethan’s reaction, which starts off mortified and ends strangely proud. Is he embarrassed because he thinks Renee—a woman he’s ostensibly attracted to—is not nearly hot enough to hold her own? Is he mortified because she’s making a fool out of herself? Does he wish he just stayed home? Who can say! It’s not clear what we’re supposed to make of Renee’s illusory hotness because everyone around her thinks her behavior is a massive, elaborate joke, treating an average, blonde, white woman as a hideous monster. The question is, who’s laughing?