Film Review: No Hard Feelings
No Hard Feelings
Director: Gene Stupnitsky
Saks Picture Company and Excellent Cadaver
In Theaters 06.13
The raunchy, R-Rated comedy is rarely one of my favorite genres, and there’s little that I despise more than a contrived rom-com. Despite this, I kept my fingers crossed for No Hard Feelings simply because Jennifer Lawrence’s comic delivery is on par with Groucho Marx.
Lawrence stars as Maddie, a 32-year-old Uber driver living in Montauk whose car is repossessed just as she is on her way to earning enough money to pay off the house left to her by her late mother. Losing the car may mean losing the house, and Maddie is desperate to find a solution. Maddie then finds a job listing placed online by Laird and Allison Becker (Matthew Broderick and Lauren Benanti), a pair of wealthy helicopter parents summering in Montauk.
The Beckers are seeking a woman in her early to mid-20s to “date” their awkward, 19-year-old son Percy (Andrew Barth Feldman, A Tourist’s Guide To Lovers) and hopefully give him a boost of self-confidence that will serve him well as he goes off to college at Princeton. In exchange for deflowering their son, the couple will give Maddie a Buick (as one does). Despite being a little older than what they are looking for, Maddie jumps at the chance to jump on Percy, and she gets the job only to discover that this clueless and socially inept introvert is also a person. Callously seducing him will not be as easy as it seemed.
No Hard Feelings is vulgar and far-fetched. It’s also a scintillatingly sarcastic, side-splittingly silly, surprisingly smart and a satisfyingly sweet summer side dish. While it earns its R rating, there’s a lot more to this movie than mere shock-value laughs, and the characters are among the most endearing of any summer movie. The screenplay by Good Boys co-writers Stupitsky and John Phillips provides a strong framing and plenty of witty dialogue, and Stupnitsky’s direction assures that both the comic timing and the tender character drama are played with equal finesse.
The success of the movie must be credited to its leads, however. Lawrence is in top form, and it’s both amusing and unnerving to see yesterday’s Hollywood “it” girl getting so much comedic mileage out of the realization that she’s not part of the young generation anymore. Feldman is a revelation, taking a risky character and making us fall utterly in love with him. While i’m hesitant to use the word chemistry (an overused term that often diminishes the work that actors put into building their performances), the sparks coming off of these two are bigger than any fireworks you’ll see this summer, and it’s all the more satisfying for the genuine and sensitive direction in which the story takes these characters.
No Hard Feelings is a winning and thoroughly charming comedy that has the potential to be a real crowd-pleaser. It’s Lawrence’s best star vehicle in nearly 10 years, and it’s likely to be only the first of many for Feldman. If you want big laughs surrounding a rich, soft center, this satisfying concoction is the perfect summer treat. –Patrick Gibbs