Jennifer Lawrence and Andrew Barth Feldman star in No Hard Feelings, a sex comedy that is better at being sappy than funny.
This summer, watch the movie that has Gen Z calling their parents about being bullied on the big screen. No Hard Feelings harkens back to the days when Millennials were the hip teens in town, and they could watch hilarious(?) raunch-comedies in movie theaters like Sex Drive and…American Wedding? Times were tough, and now that Millennials like Jennifer Lawrence have hit their early 30s, it’s easy to see why they don’t really make ’em like they used to.
Lawrence, who also co-produced the film, stars as Maddie, a beach town local who refuses to give up her late mother’s house while rich families move in and start hiking up the property taxes, gentrification-style. We’ll get to the comedy part, soon. To make ends meet, Maddie is a slave to the gig economy, but her Uber days are in peril when an ex-boyfriend tows her car and ruins her chances to make some quick summer money.
Enter a bizarre Craigslist ad that could turn things around. But the catch is that Maddie would have to romance a shy, awkward 19-year-old named Percy (Andrew Barth Feldman) whose mom and dad (Laura Benanti and Matthew Broderick) are such literal helicopter parents, they have a picture on the wall of themselves in front of a literal helicopter.
“Need a car? Date our son.”
Gene Stupinsky, who directed and co-wrote the film with John Phillips, is no stranger to both R-rated comedies and awkward-premise stories, as he previously directed Good Boys and co-created the recent hit series Jury Duty. But the first chunk of No Hard Feelings is a cavalcade of red flags, at least when it comes to setting up the level of comedy to expect throughout. Many of the early jokes fall flat, characters speak in pained exposition, and the editing and general flow make it seem as if Stupinsky shot these scenes on the first take and in a rush, rather than polished and tweaked as they went along.
The film picks up when Lawrence finally gets an onscreen partner who can play off her vivacious personality. Feldman, who starts out as annoyingly meek, organically grows into the film’s secret weapon, arguably peaking with a piano cover of “Maneater” that almost saves the entire film. While the story is certainly obvious and predictable in where it’s going, the central performers have a believable chemistry that isn’t plainly romantic or platonic. It’s hard to say whether or not Supinsky and Phillips were more concerned with the wealth gap theme of the movie or the age gap one. Particularly later in the film when they find a stride in exploring Maddie’s discomfort at party full of Gen Z teens.
A lot of the jokes at Gen Z’s expense are, for lack of a better word, cringe. They remind of the cheap shots Millennials received for years as avocado-toast-eating hipsters. Movies like Book Smart have done this sort of thing much better, not that No Hard Feelings even tries to be much of anything beyond a disposable June comedy designed for streaming service thumbnail algorithms once it makes its box office cash.
The bottom line.
Sadly, this is not a strong continuation of Jennifer Lawrence’s “Lawrennaisance” after the superb Causeway and even the polarizing Don’t Look Up. But it could easily find an audience craving slapstick gags and a couple scenes of Kyle Mooney somehow being more wasted in this movie than on Saturday Night Live. The film may not have much of a comedic climax, but it at least has somewhat of a heartfelt release by the end. It’s just glad you came.
No Hard Feelings opens in theaters on June 23. Watch the trailer here.
NO HARD FEELINGS - 5.5/10