The Hating Game may not add anything new to the enemies to lovers genre, yet its undeniably fun, fresh and sharp with decent performances.
Written by Becca Johnson
Based on the novel of the same name by Sally Thorne, The Hating Game tells the story of Lucy and Josh, two individuals that form a workplace rivalry after their companies merge. However, their rivalry is made complicated when the pair develop feelings for each other, yet can't trust that the other isn't just playing a game.
Fans of the novel will be pleased to discover that the movie adaptation doesn't stray too far away from its source material. The movie definitely modernises certain plot points and settings, but all favourite scenes are present; the paintballing, Lucy's weekend of sickness and the wedding confrontation. However, when it does stray, it seems worthwhile. Austin Stowell's portrayal of lead Joshua Templeman gives him a much bigger personality than book Josh. He's goofier and funnier with more charisma, yet still has his prominent mean streak. It also gives Lucy's character a lot more agency and growth that she has undertaken on her own, rather than through force from Josh like the novel suggests.
Any romance relies on chemistry, and luckily, Austin Stowell and Lucy Hale undoubtedly have it. The pair work well both together and on their own, with Hale redeeming herself from a run of shoddy roles in the past. The leads are equal parts charming and sexy, and their incessant bickering during the first half of the movie adds a level of humour and corniness. Whilst the movies focus is fully on Lucy and Josh, the side characters are fun when they have the screen time. Though they don't appear frequently, the script does well to let the audience know their individual personalities and traits.
Where The Hating Game lets itself down slightly is within its story – it seems quite safe and formulaic. The main conflict is that Lucy and Josh are both battling out for the same promotion, but due to their on/off, make-up/break-up relationship taking precedence, its easy to forget that there is even a promotion at all. If the workplace dynamic and tough competition was explored further, a more unique and distinguishable movie would be created, with higher stakes and a bigger driving force behind it. It falls into predictable and generic territory pretty swiftly.
That being said, the office setting gives The Hating Game a unique edge. All aesthetics including the locations and costuming make the movie feel extremely modern and appealing. It's a romantic comedy that invites you in from the start, the slick feel coming across within the script also. The cinematography is bright and enticing, and though many of the bouncy pop songs in the soundtrack were fairly cheesy, they undeniably matched the tone of the movie.
The Hating Game is not a cinematic masterpiece, nor is it a brand new take on the enemies to lovers trope of the romance genre. However, it is a fun, sexy and delightful 100 minute flick that has enough believable chemistry and steamy scenes to be worth the watch. Fans of the book will appreciate how true the adaptation stays to its source material, and those new to the story will hopefully appreciate its character quirks and workplace rivalry. It's definitely predictable and cringe-worthy, but many good romance movies are.