The romantic comedy has slowly disappeared from the big screen in recent years, and it frequently seems to have taken sex with it. Perhaps this explains the extraordinary interest generated by the media’s coverage of No Hard Feelings, a romantic comedy about a 32-year-old unemployed Uber driver who falls in love with a nerdy 19-year-old virgin geek who is about to enroll in Princeton.
The movie stars Jennifer Lawrence. Some moralistic pearl-clutching has been done in response to the trailer, but most likely for the same reason that the movie might resonate: It has a pervy appearance. But after watching No Hard Feelings, you understand that the movie’s claim to be about dangerous business is really just a big tease in this No Hard Feelings review.
Maddie is a capricious and promiscuous bartender and ride-hail driver whose car has been repossessed. If she can’t pick people up, she won’t be able to make enough money to settle the tax debt on the house she inherited from her mother. Maddie isn’t a professional escort. When Percy, a 19-year-old puppy-cute but initially highly recessive person, is assigned to “date date” her, she pursues her prey with an aggressiveness that immediately turns the boy off in this No Hard Feelings review. (At one point, he pepper sprays her.)
The aforementioned 19-year-old is Percy (Andrew Barth Feldman), whose affluent parents (Matthew Broderick, smug in long gray hair, and Laura Benanti) dwell in a luxurious home in Montauk and seem to spend their lives overprotecting him. They are helicopter perfectionists who keep tabs on his every move, know the password to his phone, and have made sure that he perfectly represents the safe-space generation throughout his entire life in this No Hard Feelings review. The outcome? Percy is a depressed recluse without any friends, who avoid driving, drinking, and having pleasure, and who is preparing to leave for university as a monkish arrested-development freak.
Some sex-phobic social media communities have erupted in howls of fury over the movie’s teaser. However, the manner the movie handles the hook itself is to raise questions rather than call for a congressional hearing in this No Hard Feelings review. Maddie begins to enjoy Percy as she is forced to spend time with him in person. She follows her advice to “get him out of his shell,” and while she does so, he convinces her to think about why she will be dead-ending it in Montauk for the foreseeable future. You don’t understand Hollywood if you don’t see this coming.
The film complacently veers between rom-com subgenres rather than straddling the line between raucous sex farce and a dual personal growth study in this No Hard Feelings review. It amicably switches between typical descriptions of private intimacy and ostensibly outré stage pieces. As when Maddie runs out of the water to give some townies trying to steal their things a buck-naked beating after being interrupted while skinny dipping with Percy.
Suspension of Disbelief
I didn’t buy for a second that Jennifer Lawrence’s Maddie would agree to sleep with some kid just to have access to a car so she could rejoin the gig economy because otherwise, her beloved house will go poof! Jennifer Lawrence oozes pride, sensuality, and a radiant belief in herself as a performer in this No Hard Feelings review.
While watching No Hard Feelings, you sort of roll with it because Gene Stupnisky (“Good Boys”), the film’s director and co-screenwriter, works with a confectionary skill that pulls you along, because Lawrence is acting with a reckless theatrical sexiness that allows her to wink at viewers at how effectively she can turn it on and off, and because in spirit the film is just a rom-com (a form not intended to pass the plausibility test). Additionally, Andrew Barth Feldman, a big-screen rookie who resembles Mike White combined with Seth Meyers’ pale son crossed with a bacteria, ends up being a successful actor in this No Hard Feelings review.
The two characters first come into contact when Maddie, who is acting out everything she says, enters the animal sanctuary where Percy volunteers. She is speaking about getting a dog in an angry double entendre while donning a skin-tight raspberry minidress and stiletto gold shoes. The irony is that Percy doesn’t seem to be a young child with an inner dog, thus it all goes unnoticed in this No Hard Feelings review.
In fact, No Hard Feelings does such an excellent job of showing that Maggie’s sex-bomb display is all theater, done out of pure opportunism, and that Percy has no hormonal reaction to it, that the movie effectively dispels any potential romantic or erotic threat from either side. It’s comparable to staging “Risky Business” as low-risk management.
Maddie tries to prod Percy into channeling his inner wild boy for a bit. She forces him into a midnight ocean swim at the beach and orders him a Long Island Ice Tea at a bar, which he thinks tastes like awful ice tea. Their adventure is cut short when some unpleasant kids decide to take their clothes. The scenario that follows, in which Maddie emerges from the water and fights them while she is still completely full-frontal naked, plays as an odd instance of exploitation in this No Hard Feelings review. The only reason Lawrence was filmed in that manner was because someone thought it would increase the movie’s box office revenue.
Percy ends up naked on the hood of a speeding automobile, though, to show that the film is engaging in equal-opportunity nudity. This sequence feels like it would fit right in with a cheesy 1980s adolescent comedy in this No Hard Feelings review.
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Here is the distinction. No Hard Feelings is the first teen-focused comedy from Hollywood where the protagonist doesn’t seem to want to lose his virginity. What then becomes of Maddie and Percy? Although they did have one brief experience, their connection is not in any way sexual or even romantic in this No Hard Feelings review. However, as she watches Percy grow, it’s interesting for a while, especially if you’re not sure where the movie is heading.
The movie creates a small amount of tension when Percy breaks out of his shell enough to sit down at the piano in a fancy restaurant and serenade the customers with a cocktail-lounge rendition of Hall and Oates’ “Maneater,” or when Maddie crashes a party of Princeton preppies only to find out that she is even older than she thinks she is.
However, it doesn’t amount to much in the end. The No Hard Feelings script creates a safe environment for itself, doing little more than allowing Maddie and Percy to develop a friendship in which they support one another’s growth in this No Hard Feelings review.
A Failure of Premise
Less hilarious than instances of the movie pushing too hard are jokes about finger traps, mace spraying, and a dog who enjoys drugs. Since “American Hustle,” Lawrence has been looser and more rowdy than ever before, and Feldman always comes across as a genuine 19-year-old. This young actor exudes presence and sincerity that give the impression that he is beyond acting in this No Hard Feelings review. That, though, both helps and hurts the movie.
Despite its concern about Generation Safe, No Hard Feelings portrays Percy as an innocent and uneasy but essentially normal adolescent who doesn’t really need to do anything other than mature on his own terms. The movie is attempting to propel him forward in this No Hard Feelings review. In some way, it wants him to be just as fabricated as the circumstance he is in.
No Hard Feelings Review: Final Thoughts
No Hard Feelings would have been a failure if not for the comedic brilliance of Lawrence and Barth Feldman, whose commanding appeal and chemistry generate laughs in this No Hard Feelings review. But because of them, it’s a passable summer comedy that will satisfy J. Law fans even though her skills are better suited for other roles.
In any case, Lawrence is a dependably electrifying presence on screen, and her role allows her to essentially perform her greatest hits. She has a beaming smile that you can’t deny her anything, a goofily gorgeous appearance, and poignantly big eyes. The awkwardness of Percy is framed by Andrew Barth Feldman in a quiet voice for the most part, but at the character’s more exuberant nerd moments, he is reminiscent of a young Martin Short in this No Hard Feelings review. The strange parents, Matthew Broderick and Laura Benanti are present and in character. However, the film’s best moments belong to Natalie Morales, Scott MacArthur, and Zahn McClarnon as Maddie’s townie friends, who offer caustic working-class solidarity for our heroine.