No Hard Feelings movie poster

No Hard Feelings

In theaters June 23, 2023


103 minutes

Directed by:

Starring: , , , , ,

A lot is riding on Sony’s gamble of casting the talented yet expensive Jennifer Lawrence in the new R-rated comedy No Hard Feeling. With R-rated comedies performing worse historically than those rated PG-13, it’s a bet that Sony can’t afford to lose. And not only for the studio but for the future of R-rated comedies appearing outside of platforms like Netflix and Hulu. It’s been nearly six years since an adult comedy (Girls Trip) has grossed more than $100M stateside and since the pandemic, only Good Boys has grossed over $75M domestically.

In Sony’s favor, good R-rated movies hold a more fond place in viewer’s hearts than their more tame counterparts. Mention Superbad, Old School, or 1974’s classic Blazing Saddles and you’re sure to draw a smile and perhaps even a favorite line. Against the film though is its decision to reportedly spend nearly a third of the budget on securing Lawrence in the role. Lawrence has proved that she has the comedic chops in films like Netflix’s Don’t Look Up and Silver Linings Playbook, but never has she headlined a true comedy. So did the bet pay off? Not this time.

Based on a real 2013 Craigslist ad in which wealthy parents attempted to find a woman to “date” their son in exchange for a new car, No Hard Feelings casts Lawrence as Maddie, a financially strapped Uber driver who soon finds herself without a car and needing transportation if she’s going to save her house. So what’s a 32-year-old desperate woman supposed to do? In this case, “dating” social awkward Percy (Andrew Barth Feldman) in exchange for a Buick Regal feels like the right answer.

Both character suffer from an inability to leave home – Maddie unable to ever leave Montauk and Percy unwilling to leave his house after an unfortunate school incident. Only together can they save one another. Lawrence with an all-too-cringy modern day Mrs. Robinson performance at times feels as if she’s trying to remain relevant after the birth of her first son, but the perfectly cast Feldman as the self-conscious and anxious teenager owns this film – a feat even more impressive considering his biggest role to date was starring in Broadway’s Dear Evan Hansen.

Lauded as a raunchy comedy by many news outlets in advance of the film’s release, let’s put that mislabel to rest now as outside of a scene or two, there is little that should be labeled raunchy. Even a much discussed nude scene fails to land the laughs it seemed to desire. What the film is, surprisingly, is an ole fashioned comedy with a lot of heart – perhaps too much. Director Gene Stupinsky’s decision to lay too heavily on the emotion drags the film down and far too many silly sight gags fall short. And like far too many comedies, the trailer spoils the film’s funniest scenes – more so the red band trailer than the more family friendly teaser.

Comedies often require strong word of mouth to carry a film far and with the ongoing writer’s strike killing late night TV and reducing the opportunities for actors to promote their films, No Hard Feelings faces a lot of headwinds. But with two more heavily promoted comedies to follow No Hard Feelings in theaters this summer, all is not lost. There is still hope that one of them lands and audiences (and critics) don’t unintentionally kill the R-rated comedy, forever relegating it to streaming platforms because there is nothing better than watching a comedy with a large group. Early bets based on advance screenings have Lionsgate’s Joy Ride acting as the savior Hollywood needs. Fingers crossed…

No Hard Feelings is streaming now on the following services:
Movie Reelist Contributor: Mark Eaton
Mark is an entertainment junkie, spending much of his leisure time watching movies, TV, or listening to any and all genres of music. Most evenings, after finishing a day of work and hanging with his wife and kids, Mark can be found in an eternal battle with his DVR, trying to clear it before another 5-6 hours of shows are recorded the next day. Still reeling from his unpaid gig for the Detroit News where he was fired for being too cruel with his American Idol recaps, Mark is thrilled to be sharing his wicked sense of humor with Movie Reelists.

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