I recently had the chance to see Pretty Ugly People, an indie comedy flying pretty low on the radar, at the Newport Film Festival. Clocking in at a lean 99 minutes, Pretty Ugly People is a pretty funny movie with some pretty unique twists. It may not be groundbreaking, but it’s a highly entertaining journey filled with some very memorable moments.
The film centers around the character of Lucy, the “fat friend” in college, who ask her friends to join her in the mountains for a reunion. Once they get there she informs them that her “time is running out”. Assuming that she is about to die, her old friends, who have long gone their separate ways, manage to get make it out to Lucy’s mountain retreat. The cast is expansive, but luckily never gets cumbersome with each of the characters carrying some very distinct character traits and flaws.
It is here where Pretty shines the most. Its cast of characters carry the story nicely and provide for some very, very funny situations. The acting is equally eloquent, especially considering the relatively unknown statuses of most of the cast. The writing however, while competent, is fairly inconsistent. Taken purely as a comedy, Pretty is honestly a bit lackluster. While jokes abound at every corner of the script, real laugh-out-loud moments are somewhat few and far between.
Luckily for the film, it seeks to go beyond just silly comedic elements and tries to delve a little deeper. Dramatically, the film fails to go beyond typical character developmental arcs, but manages to capture the essence of these transformations in a moving and compelling manner. Pretty is unafraid to touch on a wide range of issues including race, gender roles, and sexual identity, yet manages to keep from bludgeoning the viewer over the head with its views. An oddly paced third act and bewildering ending hamper the experience a bit, but not enough to take the enjoyment out of it.
On the whole, Pretty is clever, sassy and occasionally edgy, but doesn’t break a whole lot of new ground. The end product is remarkably entertaining and well worth the watch; it’s just nothing special. Still, considering the budget that many indie films find themselves stuck with, Pretty Ugly People is a pretty sweet flick.