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Movies & TV

21st Jun 2023

REVIEW: No Hard Feelings is perfect Friday night viewing

Rory Cashin

No Hard Feelings

This is Jennifer Lawrence as you’ve never seen her before.

There is a lot to be said for a three-star movie. The pressure is off, you don’t need to pay too much attention to the plot, you don’t even – necessarily – have to be all that sober if you don’t want to be. Those are pretty much the exact circumstances under which No Hard Feelings are best enjoyed, because it is a joke-heavy, plot-light, adult-aimed raunchy comedy with a higher zinger count than IQ.

Written and directed by Gene Stupnitsky, one of the head writers of the the American version of The Office, it is somewhat unbelievably based on a true story; a young, financial desperate woman (Jennifer Lawrence) answers an ad placed by two rich, emotionally desperate parents (Matthew Broderick and Laura Benanti), who want her to date their all-too-introvert son (Andrew Barth Feldman) in order to get him ready for college life.

While some will say that this harkens back to the kind of male-led comedies that were pretty much exclusively fronted by men in the mid-noughties – The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Superbad, Knocked Up, etc. – the truth is that the ladies have actually been killing it in this genre for a while now. Girls’ Trip, Sisters and Booksmart have actually been some of the best big(ish, relatively) comedies of recent years, and No Hard Feelings comfortably sits along side them.

While there is the obvious issue of the age-gap (Lawrence is supposed to be in her early thirties, while Feldman is playing a 19 year old), and how this movie might be immediately cancelled if the genders were swapped, but thankfully Stupnitsky doesn’t sidestep this concern. There are plenty of jokes made at Lawrence’s expense because of her age and the potentially problematic issue of age difference.

Elsewhere, the movie zips along so quickly that for every joke that doesn’t work – and there are a few of them – a good one isn’t too far away. Well-worn rom-com set-ups including bad first meets, awkward first dates, the requisite house party visit and even a montage showing the happy development of their relationship are played out with a knowing wink of how these things should go, and why this movie probably won’t be adhering to those genre rules.

Lawrence absolutely throws herself into what is probably the most fun character she’s ever brought to the big screen, especially in one scene that we’re sure will be getting plenty of online reactions on opening weekend. She’s ably matched by Feldman’s achingly shy but very loveable nerd, but neither of them are always supported by a killer script.

An early scene in which Lawrence and her on-screen BFF (Natalie Morales) have an incredibly funny back-and-forth exchanging hilarious reasons why they had sex on a first date calls to mind the iconic “You know how I know you’re gay…” scene from The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Unfortunately, while jokes of that calibre aren’t as plentiful as you’d hope, there are enough laugh-out-loud and edgy laughs to be found to definitely warrant spending 90 minutes in their company on a Friday night.

No Hard Feelings is released in cinemas right now.

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