07th Sep2023

‘No Hard Feelings’ Blu-ray Review

by Matthew Turner

Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Andrew Barth Feldman, Matthew Broderick, Laura Benanti, Natalie Morales, Hasan Minhaj, Scott MacArthur, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Kyle Mooney | Written by Gene Stupnitsky, John Phillips | Directed by Gene Stupnitsky

Jennifer Lawrence produces and stars in No Hard Feelings, a raunchy sort-of rom-com that’s much sweeter at heart than it initially appears on the surface. As a result, the tone is all over the place, but it ultimately wins you over, thanks to committed comic performances from the two leads.

Directed by Gene Stupnitsky (who made Good Boys), the film stars Lawrence as Maddie, a 32-year-old native of New England beachside town Montauk, who’s about to lose her home because of the exorbitant tax rates, and because she’s recently lost the car she depends on for her job as an Uber driver. With her options running out, she answers an ad on Craigslist from two wealthy, well-meaning parents (Matthew Broderick and Laura Benanti), who are offering a free car to a woman in her mid-to-late twenties if she’ll agree to “date” (meaning go out with and have sex with) their introverted 19-year-old son Percy (Andrew Barth Feldman), before he goes off to Princeton.

Initially, Maddie thinks the job is in the bag, but she’s reckoned without the fact that Percy doesn’t seem all that interested in having sex. Indeed, he remains completely oblivious to her comically over-the-top early advances, forcing Maddie to rethink her approach.

The somewhat dodgy premise – along with its double entendre title – is ultimately the most risque thing about the film, which never really commits to its own set-up. There is, admittedly, a sex scene of sorts, but it’s not exactly what you’re expecting.

As a result, there’s a real problem with the film’s tone, which ping-pongs between genuine sweetness and charm and excruciating embarrassment. It’s also never clear if the film actually wants the audience to be cringing that hard, or whether it has badly misjudged its own jokes, several of which fall painfully flat.

That said, there are plenty of genuinely funny moments. The highlight involves Maddie gate-crashing a party for teenagers and being abruptly confronted by the generation gap – in one inspired moment, two muscled-up bros chastise her for making a joke that they might want to sleep with each other, asking what would be wrong if they did.

Lawrence is a gifted comedic actress – both physically and verbally – and she has a number of very moments here, most notably when Maddie is trying to seduce Percy in his office at an animal shelter, awkwardly shuffling the sofa so that it’s in front of his desk, only for the heights to be wildly different.

And then there’s the film’s genuinely outrageous central set piece, where a naked Lawrence violently beats up a bunch of teenagers who have stolen their clothes while they were skinny-dipping. It’s a decidedly bold move that does admittedly generate laughs – and it will obviously give the film its much-needed talking point – but it’s also jarring in tone compared to the rest of the film, and doesn’t quite work the way it was intended.

There are other problems too, primarily the fact that large parts of the premise are hard to swallow, even though a certain amount of rom-com contrivance comes with the territory. However, it also seems to contradict itself – Percy’s behaviour (singing in public, going to a bar in half a suit) just isn’t consistent with the painfully shy introvert he’s been painted as, and the film never addresses that. Similarly, at one point Maddie stops Percy from having a viable relationship with a girl his own age, and the film doesn’t make it clear whether that’s because she has feelings for him, or because she’s only thinking about the car.

With all that said, the performances (including a number of amusing turns in the supporting cast), the general sweetness and the comic – if not romantic – chemistry between Lawrence and Feldman are ultimately enough to compensate for the film’s flaws. And if the film leads to Lawrence doing more comedies, that can only be a good thing.

Special Features:

  • Outtakes and bloopers
  • A Motley Crew: Meet the Characters
  • A Little Wrong: Making No Hard Feelings

*** 3/5

No Hard Feelings is out now on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital.


Comments are closed.