Movie Review: No Hard Feelings

Published 4:00 pm Friday, June 30, 2023

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NO HARD FEELINGS is my first movie surprise of the year. Admittedly, I am a Jennifer Lawrence fan, so I went into the movie mostly to support her because the trailer left little to be desired. As with most “R-rated” comedies, I was expecting the worst and hoping for the best… and I am so happy that this film is definitely more in the “best” category. It has a lot of humor, even more heart, and a fantastic comedic performance from Lawrence, who uses her natural charisma and presence to make this an enjoyable comedy… and did I mention one scene in particular is going to break the internet? Let’s just say Viggo Mortensen better watch his back because Jennifer Lawrence is coming for his fight scene crown.

Set in Montauk, New York, the film follows Maddie (Lawrence), a native of the area who has barely ever even left the state. After her mom’s death, Maddie is left with her childhood home but cannot afford to pay, largely because the wealthy continue to flock to the area and boost the cost of living. Maddie is barely getting by as an Uber driver, and is even more devastated when her car is repossessed. Now, without a job, she is desperate to find something that will enable her to continue paying for her house and keep the memory of her mother alive. So, she decides to answer an ad that is seeking a young 20-something woman to give their loner, nerdy son Percy (Andrew Barth Feldman) “experience” before he heads to college… in exchange for a car. Maddie is in her early 30s and doesn’t know what “experience” the family is talking about, but figures this is her shot to get ahead. And hey, she’s done worse, right?

Although some may consider this film a “sex” comedy, it has a lot more to say than others in the genre. It spends less time trying to seduce the audience and more time focused on such themes as finding a place where you belong and leaving your comfort zone. The film is also incredibly sex positive, allowing Lawrence’s character to be comfortable in who she is and removing the typical taboo around female sexuality. In one scene, Maddie and her best friend Sarah talk about all of the reasons they have chosen to hook up with a guy; many of the reasons are innocuous and hilarious and I love that there is finally a movie that shows women talking and joking so openly about their sexuality.

This film wouldn’t exist without Jennifer Lawrence, not only because she produces the movie but because she is the beating heart at the center of the action. Lawrence has sprinkled comedic crumbs throughout her entire career, but this is the first time we have seen her go headfirst into the comedy genre. And I don’t know that this film would have worked as well with any other actor. I love that she leans so much into physical comedy, which consistently make up some of the best scenes in the film; the scenes range from something as small as trying to climb stairs in roller skates to as big as getting maced and then power washed by a water hose. But some of my favorite moments in the film were her transitions from humor into showing a more sensitive and relatable part of the character, one that wants to help a young man come out of his shell but also protect his heart. It is in these moments, amplified by the fantastic chemistry between Lawrence and Feldman, that the movie really shines.

NO HARD FEELINGS has an expertly balanced tone, skillfully shifting from sensitive to comedic elements sometimes in the same scene, which has proven to be a tough nut to crack in the R-rated adult comedy genre. With about a 100 minute runtime, this breezy comedy is going to leave you smiling when you leave the theater… and like I said, ready to talk about that scene to anyone else who saw it.

My Review: B+