"No Hard Feelings is silly, hilarious, and well-meaning and deserves to be seen by as many people as possible."
BY ALEX GILSTON JUNE 26, 2023
The golden days of the big summer comedy are, unfortunately, long behind us. The only films in recent memory to capture that hilarious magic both came out in the same year; Booksmart and Good Boys. There’s been the odd comedy with funny bones but none that make you laugh so hard you almost faint. So enter stage left Gene Stupnitsky - director of the latter mentioned Good Boys - and No Hard Feelings, as a saviour to end the drought.
Maddie Barker (Jennifer Lawrence) is on the verge of losing her childhood home and when she loses her car - which she Uber’s in as one of her many jobs - the prospect becomes more likely. That is, until she finds a weird job ad on Craigslist made by parents Laird (Matthew Broderick) and Allison (Laura Benanti) who are looking for someone to date their introverted 19 year old son Percy (Andrew Barth Feldman). In return for doing so they offer a Buick Regal to keep. Maddie jumps at the opportunity and starts to try and seduce Percy.
On paper this concept is questionable at best but Gene Stupnitsky rolls with the awkwardness. That awkwardness breeds some incredibly hilarious situations, like Maddie approaching Percy where he works at a dog shelter, and the two of them going skinny dipping on their first date and having their clothes stolen. A good majority of the jokes land and some are side-splitting. But what makes No Hard Feelings especially strong is its emotional heart. Seeing Percy slowly coming out of his shell, and Maddie realising that there are things she needs to let go of are both extremely relatable and are worked beautifully into the script.
It’s great to see Jennifer Lawrence properly back on the scene, she hasn’t lost any of her star quality or flare. She highlighted her dramatic prowess in last year's Causeway but it’s nice to see her let loose and shake off her comedic chops. That being said, when it mattered she still reverted back to that seriousness we love her for (I see you single tear!). Andrew Barth Feldman is illuminating in his breakout role. He matches Lawrence on all fronts. He’s effortlessly funny, but also plays the dramatics well. He’s particularly top notch in a captivating scene where Percy performs Maneater on the piano for Maddie in a restaurant in front of the other revelers. The two of them work together on a purposeful anti-chemistry which then slowly blossoms into an oddball relationship, but it works.
Gene Stupnitsky and co should be proud of what they have produced in No Hard Feelings. It felt like an answer to a question long left unanswered. No Hard Feelings is silly, hilarious, and well-meaning and deserves to be seen by as many people as possible.