No Hard Feelings | No Hard Feelings is worth a watch only for Jennifer Lawrence who lets her funny side rip
Despite her typically intense characters on screen, Jennifer Lawrence’s off-screen goofiness reveals her funny side in the raunchy sex comedy No Hard Feelings. However, despite JLaw’s stellar performance and the presence of co-star Andrew Barth Feldman, the film directed by Gene Stupnitsky fails to deliver any laugh-out-loud moments or emotionally touching scenes.
The premise may be seen as controversial due to the issue of sexual grooming, but if we set that aside, the film had the potential to achieve the cult status of some classic sex comedies.
Maddie Barker (played by Jennifer Lawrence) is a struggling resident of Montauk who works as an Uber driver and bartender to make ends meet. Just as the idyllic summer tourist spot starts to heat up, Maddie’s assets, including her car, are seized due to the delayed payment of property taxes on her inherited house.
Maddie, who was the result of a summer fling and abandoned by her wealthy sperm donor, harbors a strong hatred for the wealthy individuals buying property in Montauk, which drives up prices and displaces locals. When she comes across a Craigslist ad offering a Buick Regal in exchange for “dating,” specifically dating a 19-year-old and helping him come out of his shell before he attends Princeton, Maddie is encouraged by her friends Sarah and Jim to “use them like they use us.”
Although helicopter parents Laird and Allison allow Maddie to have free rein in how she approaches bringing their son Percy (played by Feldman) out of his shell, Maddie finds it challenging to entice the shy and introverted young man with her aggressive sexuality. This leads to her getting maced, thrown into the sea with her butt on fire, and facing rejection in various ways.
Jennifer Lawrence excels in physical comedy, whether it’s attempting to climb stairs with rollerblades on, causing a shelf to collapse after being punched in the throat, or confronting young kids while fully naked (although this scene may not be visible in India). She shines when portraying crass and foul-mouthed characters. However, she can’t do much to salvage a film that fails to commit to any specific theme, whether it’s exploring sexual jokes, highlighting class differences, commenting on helicopter parenting, or addressing the taboo surrounding sex today.
The emotional moments between JLaw and Feldman also feel authentic, but they seem disconnected from the rest of the film. Ultimately, No Hard Feelings plays it too safe to match up to classic coming-of-age sex comedies like American Pie and ends up being forgettable.
No Hard Feelings is worth watching for Jennifer Lawrence’s performance alone, but not much else.
Despite her mostly intense characters on screen, her off-screen goofiness clues us into her funny side and Jennifer Lawrence lets that funny side rip in the raunchy sex comedy No Hard Feelings. But despite JLaw hitting all the right notes, and having a worthy ally in co-star Andrew Barth Feldman, the Gene Stupnitsky-directed film neither serves up any laugh-out-loud moments nor emotionally touching ones.
The premise is a bit icky, if seen through the lens of how problematic sexual grooming can be, but if we can put that aside, it had the potential for gaining the cult status of some of the sex comedies of yore.
Maddie Barker (Jennifer Lawrence) is a down-on-luck Montauk resident who struggles to keep a roof over her head driving an Uber and bartending on the side. The idyllic summer tourist spot is just hotting up when her assets are seized, including her car, for the delay of property taxes on the house her mother left her.
Maddie, who was the result of a summer fling and abandoned by the wealthy vacationing sperm donor, has intense hatred for the rich guys who buy property in Montauk pushing up property prices and pushing out locals. So when a Craigslist ad offers a Buick Regal in exchange for “dating”, and yes it is “dating” dating a 19-year-old to bring him out of his shell before he goes to Princeton, Maddie is urged by her friends Sarah (Natalie Morales) and Jim (Scott MacArthur) — the funniest characters of the film — to “use them like they use us”.
Helicopter parents Laird (Matthew Broderick) and Allison (Laura Benanti) may have given her a free rein in how she wants to bring their son Percy (Feldman) out of his shell but Maddie finds it far from easy to tempt the shy and introverted young man with her aggressive sexuality, causing to get her maced, thrown into the sea with her butt on fire and being turned down in every possible way.
JLaw is a phenomenon when it comes to physical comedy, whether she is trying to climb stairs with rollerblades on bringing down a shelf after being punched in the throat or giving young kids a beat down by the beach in her birthday suit (not that we get to see it in India). She is great when she is being crass and foul-mouthed and not at all appropriate. But she can’t do much to save a film which doesn’t commit to anything — whether it is going all out for sexual jokes or in trying to highlight class differences or comment on helicopter parenting or how sex has become a little too taboo today.
Just like the comedic sequences, the emotional moments between JLaw and Feldman also feel genuine but it feels like watching an altogether different film. In the end, No Hard Feelings plays it too safe to match up to the coming-of-age sex comedies like American Pie and becomes instantly forgettable.
No Hard Feelings is worth a watch for Lawrence alone, but not for much else.