Star Rating:

No Hard Feelings

Director: Gene Stupnitsky

Actors: Jennifer Lawrence, Andrew Feldman, Laura Benanti, Natalie Morales, Matthew Broderick

Release Date: Friday 23rd June 2023

Genre(s): Comedy, Drama

Running time: 103 minutes

Maddie (Jennifer Lawrence) is facing homelessness if she can't come up with enough money to pay her property taxes, which have skyrocketed since wealthy people began moving into her locality in Montauk. Desperate, she agrees to date an introverted young man (Andrew Barth Feldman) who's about to go to college in exchange for a car owned by his wealthy parents (Matthew Broderick, Laura Benanti). While their dates are awkward and frequently end in mischief, a connection begins to grow between them...

Jennifer Lawrence is a gifted comedic actor, capable of using everything and anything in her arsenal to get a good laugh. You only need to look at something like 'Don't Look Up', where she was one of the few standouts in an otherwise dull and flat comedic effort, or her turn in 'American Hustle' as the unhinged wife to Christian Bale's character. On paper, 'No Hard Feelings' should work easily and have a kind of 'Superbad' late-night comedy feel to it. Instead, the screenplay and the direction seem to find themselves caught between making bland sex jokes and then trying to be a kind of 'Harold and Maude' for Gen Z'ers. The result is something that ends up neither being all that funny nor all that resonant.

To Lawrence's credit, she throws herself into the comedy with ease and you really get the sense that with better material to work with, she could really make something special out of it. She has the ability to do physical comedy - including one particular scene involving skinning-dipping that devolves into her giving a German suplex to someone - but is equally comfortable making comedy out of her own beauty á la Goldie Hawn. It doesn't help, however, that her frequent screen partner, Andrew Barth Feldman, appears to have no mind for comedy and takes himself far too seriously. Sure, that's sort of the point of his character, but there's a wooden quality about his performance that never fails to suck the funny out of a scene.

Gene Stupnitsky's previous work on 'The US Office' and 'Good Boys' speaks to an ability to craft comedy with an emotional core to them, but in the case of 'No Hard Feelings', it all just feels far too familiar for it to have any kind of impact. The age difference jokes right through to the heartfelt "I've actually got feelings for you" finale have all been done before, and done better, and doesn't even attempt to subvert these tropes or comment on them in any kind of meaningful way. Ultimately, 'No Hard Feelings' is one of those comedies where the funniest moments are in the trailer and everything on either side of this is a rom-com that's far too bland and doesn't have nearly enough of an edge to it.