As someone who grew up during the 1980s and watched my share of sex comedies (for better or worse), I went into this screening with much curiosity and some trepidation. In our current climate, sex comedies involving teens are a dangerous territory to tread, as they probably should be. However, after watching and enjoying this hilarious film, No Hard Feelings is not only quite funny, but it has tremendous love for its characters and their journey.
Jennifer Lawrence stars as Maddie, a 32-year-old woman who lives in Montauk, New York, and barely scrapes by as an Uber driver. When I say barely, she isn’t making ends meet. She has had loads of debt piling up, particularly some back property taxes owed on the home she inherited from her late mother. As the government has completely lost patience with Maddie, they have taken further measures to get her attention, which includes towing and impounding her primary source of income–her car.
Desperate to remedy the situation, Maddie responds to an online ad asking for a twenty-something woman to “date” a nineteen-year-old high school graduate who is painfully shy before he leaves for college in exchange for a used car. After meeting with the parents (Laura Benanti and Matthew Broderick), she agrees to take on what initially seems like an easy task. However, once Maddie meets Percy (Andrew Barth Feldman), she soon realizes she has taken on a tremendous challenge.
Written and directed by Gene Stupnitsky, who co-wrote the screenplay with John Phillips, No Hard Feelings takes on the teen sex romp with some modern sensibilities that are much smarter than the trailer reveals. While the writing has limitations regarding some story and character development, it works very well in developing the emerging and heartfelt friendship which grows out of this bizarre premise. I have to hand it to Stupnitsky and Phillips for doing such a great job when it comes to handling both the comedy and the more serious moments. The movie never goes too over-the-top with the gags and scenarios and presents a lovely story about two people needing significant changes in their lives.
Jennifer Lawrence might initially sound like a strange choice for this type of comedy. Still, the actor does an exceptional job of realizing her character well and performing the physical comic gags exceptionally. Maddie is undoubtedly a realistic character in that she has traits and characteristics that are both lovable and unlikeable. It is great to see Lawrence take this protagonist through this moment of growth and see how everything plays out genuinely.
As Percy, Feldman is a consummate pro. Not only does he perform the comedy well, but he also fleshes out Percy as a realistic teen who has been sheltered and overprotected by his parents, who genuinely want the best for their son. The movie also can boast great performances by Matthew Broderick, Laura Benanti, Natalie Morales, and Scott MacArthur.
As far as sex comedies go, this movie never gets overly raunchy. It does feature sexual content and nudity but never gets excessively gratuitous with it. So, while No Hard Feelings is not exactly a family film with an R-rating, it is a film that people can still enjoy as it has a genuine heart to its proceedings. I highly recommend the movie as it will guarantee laughs for its audiences, and it is refreshing to see Jennifer Lawrence show a fun and exciting new facet to her acting talents.