Relationships are never easy, especially fake ones based on monetary gain. However, as Jennifer Lawrence’s new movie shows all of us, complex feelings are worth fighting through. Directed by Gene Stupnitsky, No Hard Feelings is a cringe comedy movie that breaks down human connections and offers a surprisingly in-depth look at vulnerability. It’s a film that will make you wince, giggle, and, most importantly, feel as if you just witnessed 90 minutes of straight therapy once its credits begin to roll.
Inspired by a real-life ad that Stupnisky and co-writer John Phillips found on Craigslist, No Hard Feelings tells the uncomfortable story of wealthy parents (Matthew Broderick and Laura Benanti) with too much free time on their hands trying to hire a woman to date their shut-in son Percy (Andrew Barth Feldman) before he heads off to Princeton. It may seem like a ridiculous proposition of parents literally pimping out their son behind his back, but when the car-less Uber driver Maddie (Lawrence) spots that Percy’s folks are offering a car as payment, well, she jumps at the chance.
Maddie is in crisis mode for most of the movie. Without a car, she risks losing her home, and unfortunately for her aggressive seduction tactics, Percy is a tough cookie to crack. As she tries to woo the 19-year-old Maddie must face her own destructive tendencies and undergo a spiritual journey confronting the painful ghosts of her past.
No Hard Feelings shines in its cringe comedy, which, bear in mind, isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But if you are a fan of TV series such as Arrested Development or The Office (like me), this film’s script will be right up your street. For the most part, while watching No Hard Feelings, you will genuinely be giggling from secondhand embarrassment and feel fully invested in the character’s misfortunes.
The dialogue is blunt, and Percy and Maddie’s strained relationship situations become hilariously more unhinged over time. From naked joyrides to almost surreal run-ins with TikTok filming teens, Stupnitsky knows how to balance humor with morally gray and deeply flawed characters.
When you are left laughing at throat punches and misunderstandings while simultaneously wincing at raw emotional outbursts, you know you have a cinematic winner on your hands.
But what propels Stupnitsky’s script to new heights is the chemistry between Lawrence and Feldman. The two’s dynamic is electric as their comedic timings and energy feed off one another masterfully. No Hard Feelings isn’t your standard rom-com or romance in its plot. Instead, it is a humanistic story where we witness two hurt souls coming together and beginning to grow and heal. With Feldman and Lawrence’s on-screen connection, viewers get to appreciate this journey all the more.
No Hard Feelings is a sun-kissed coming-of-age movie that, in many ways, feels reminiscent of classic ‘80s movies such as Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Neurotic characters are pushed out of their comfort zone, and physical gags and slapstick are intertwined into a straightforward but emotionally layered narrative. However, saying all of this, No Hard Feelings isn’t perfect.
The film, plot-wise, is simple and as a result, sometimes predictable. While seeing Lawrence being punched in the throat is a gasp-worthy moment, it doesn’t disrupt the status quo of a typical relationship-based comedy. The flick could have injected a well of high-stakes conflict from its underutilized secondary characters or pushed more on the consequences of Percy’s parents’ strange actions.
However, despite some narrative missteps, No Hard Feelings truly is an enjoyable movie. It is a raunchy comedy done right and serves as a reminder of Lawrence’s range and star power as a whole. No Hard Feelings won’t be the kind of movie that you are expecting, but it is the kind of movie that you won’t regret watching.
No Hard Feelings is out in UK cinemas now. For more on the film, check out our guide on how to watch No Hard Feelings, or you can find out what Gene Stupnitsky had to say about working with Jennifer Lawrence during our interview with the filmmaker.
No Hard Feelings is a cringe comedy that will defy all your expectations and leave you a giggling mess.