REVIEW — “No Hard Feelings”
Jennifer Lawrence plays it fast, funny, and loose in awkward sex comedy, No Hard Feelings.
With her natural comedic chops and likable personality, Jennifer Lawrence has long been overdue to headline an original comedy. However, the Oscar-winning dramatic actress has never starred in a straight comedy before, despite maintaining a steady track record of delightfully charming and hilariously personable talk show appearances over the years.
In No Hard Feelings, Lawrence finally gets to stroke her funny bone as Maddie, a down on her luck, 32-year-old, Montauk Uber driver who gets her car repossessed by an ex-boyfriend (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) due to her failure to pay her increasing property taxes.
Facing bankruptcy and foreclosure, she desperately accepts a Craigslist ad from rich helicopter parents (Matthew Broderick and Laura Benanti) to date and seduce their awkward 19-year-old son Percy (Andrew Barth Feldman) as they don’t want him leaving for college as an insecure and inexperienced virgin. In exchange, they’ll give her a Buick Regal so she can resume her Uber job.
What follows is a series of hilarious failed attempts by Maddie to use her charms and sexuality to loosen up the uptight and neurotic young man and get the dirty deed over with as soon as possible so she can get back on the road. At first she comes on strong, approaching Percy like a serial killer stalks its victims. For his part, Mike White-ish newcomer Feldman seems genuinely afraid for his life around Lawrence’s aggressive Maneater. However, we learn that the shy and gawky virgin is really a romantic who wants his first time to be meaningful, not some forgettable bang.
The film by director and co-screenwriter Gene Stupnisky (Good Boys) gives shades of Can’t Buy Me Love and She’s All That mixed with some of the raunchier sex comedies of the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s like Risky Business and The Girl Next Door. While No Hard Feelings must walk a finer line that those films to clear the bar of comedic appropriateness that society now allows, it covers all its bases while still delivering an entertaining and often balls-to-the-wall hilarious hard-R comedy. Unfortunately, a majority of the film’s best jokes are revealed in its trailers.
While the film too often plays it safe as it steers away from the sex comedy trappings of its predecessors and develops into a more of a heartfelt coming of age tale, its most outrageous laughs are saved for a bold beach fight scene featuring a fully-frontal, no-fs-given performance by the film’s lead actress and co-producer. Shocking and hilarious, it alone is worth the price of admission. 3.5/5
Rated R with a running time of 1 hour and 43 minutes, No Hard Feelings opens in theaters on June 23, 2023.