Surprisingly Wholesome Raunchy Cumming Of Age Comedy
No Hard Feelings is a raunchy R-Rated comedy starring Jennifer Lawrence as Maddie, a down-on-her-luck local who is desperate to save her house. Maddie’s desperation leads her to respond to a suspicious help-wanted ad from a pair of helicopter parents offering a new car to a young woman who will “date” their son Percy, played by Andrew Barth Feldman. The offer is legit, and the situation is questionable, but the laughs and heart are real in this surprisingly wholesome provocative romp.
Hard Subjects, Easy Going
Sex for any sort of payment will likely always be a bit of a taboo subject. This is probably why films that address it so openly and directly always have a sort of edge. Some waste that edge to be as ridiculous as possible, but there are those who use that edge to cut into a deeper meaning. No Hard Feelings does the latter.
Maddie is a proud sexual being who may not have the best emotional relationships but has a seemingly successful and satisfying sex life. In contrast, Percy has no sex life and has withheld having any sort of emotional relationships. It is the hope of Percy’s parents that “dating” a more experienced woman will give him confidence and bring him out of his shell. While the situation is a bit questionable, it is all designed to be consensual. Though it is by manipulation of Percy, which is very much dancing on that line of being wrong.
Luckily, No Hard Feelings, takes a light-handed approach and uses the situation to showcase the characters, rather than be a questionable premise of a raunchy teenage/young adult film about sex. Films like this require much care and effort to make in the modern day, and the situations and “guidelines” are acknowledged and even tactfully lampooned within the movie. The film is very aware of its type of movie and delivers what is expected and then some.
Jennifer Lawrence is in her element in No Hard Feelings. Unfiltered, endearing, and constantly switching from who she is to who she thinks is needed for the situation. It’s fun to see the real Maddie slip out from the facade of the Maddie who needs to get the job done. It is also an absolute delight to see her Millennial nature completely betray her age when physically, it’s hard to buy into them believing she is that much older.
The breakout star of the film is Andrew Barth Feldman. His transformation as Percy in the film is superb. Feldman masterfully evolves the character from an inexperienced shut-in to an almost entirely different character at the end of the film. And he does so while maintaining the character’s essence that watchers will immediately recognize from meeting the character.
Laura Benanti and Matthew Broderick portray amazing helicopter parents. Though audiences can fault them for the damage they have caused Percy, they will also be unable to deny the love they have for him. Numerous members of the audience were touting how much they could understand them.
While not given too much to do, the rest of the supporting cast all play the parts well and deliver some great comedic moments. Natalie Morales and Scott MacArthur, as Maddie’s best friends, lovingly rib her and support her. Kyle Mooney as Jody is a perfect part for Mooney. Ebon Moss-Bachrach, as Gary, perfectly sets up the audience’s introduction to Maddie. And Hasan Minhaj had a fun but very brief part that connects to Maddie’s past and future.
Some Soft Feelings Though
While a thoroughly funny and enjoyable film, No Hard Feelings kind of feels like a bait and switch. From the provocative and bawdy promotion of the film, fans might not be expecting or wanting the pleasant and heartwarming aspects of the film. It is artful and enjoyable, and it’s not like it isn’t out of logic or even the tone of the film. It just might not be what the vibe expected going into the movie. I don’t believe it’s a dealbreaker, but it’s something to note.
No Hard Feelings Will Get You There
No Hard Feelings fully embraces the risque fun of young, excited, and largely inexperienced and over-fantasized sex of young adults/old teenagers who are coming into their sexual age. Plenty of debauchery and moments are totally awkward to watch with your parents. Plus, there is a heartwarming message that embraces the messiness of real-life relationships and avoids the cliche ending of people who were sexually charged and lusting throughout the whole movie, miraculously falling in love at the end. Jennifer Lawrence is effortlessly enjoyable and wonderfully gets this film off.
For being a good old-fashioned raunchy comedy with a surprising amount of heart, I give No Hard Feelings a 7/10
No Hard Feelings premieres June 23, 2023, exclusively in theaters.