On the brink of losing her childhood home, Maddie (Jennifer Lawrence) discovers an intriguing job listing: wealthy helicopter parents looking for someone to “date” their introverted 19-year-old son, Percy, before he leaves for college. To her surprise, Maddie soon discovers the awkward Percy is no sure thing.
Jennifer Lawrence may not be quick with a quip, but she does know how to feel it. In No Hard Feelings, she turns the old trope of the hired parental girlfriend who teaches their son the ropes of life and love before he goes off to college into a fully sympathetic human being. It makes Feelings reversal of the teen comedy cliches particularly effective and relatable. Here, it’s the childish woman who is tutored morally by the innocent, well principled, and surprisingly wise teen nerd, Percy (Andrew Barth Feldman). No Hard Feelings is reportedly based on irl Craigslist Ad.
There’s a lot of chivalric charm in Percy’s determination to cling to his virginity. Loosing it the right way and with the right person is a noble rose to him. Think, Dustin Hoffman’s Ben Braddock of The Graduate five years younger with a more moral emotional core and Anne Brancroft’s Mrs. Robinson, ten years younger, less sophisticated but more sexually experienced. Lawrence’s Maddie would be just another horny male senior high schooler in any other comedy. Like them, underneath she’s a wounded and abandoned little child.
Yet, Lawrence and Feldman make it work. They create something that feels genuine. Lawrence is always authentic and warm, even in her most literal and emotionally naked moments. Feldman shows fine comic timing and expressive but controlled acting. He truly lives and shows his character.
This chemistry gives Feelings its frictionless ease. The script, written by Director Gene Stupnitsky and John Phillips, constantly pulls back the raunch to reveal its wholesomeness. This is the Farrelly Brothers method of filmmaking at its mid level best. Hugging and learning is the value the shock and awe is pointing towards. Stupnitsky isn’t constrained by the plot’s emotional letdowns.
No Hard Feelings turns its cynicism into a testament on the effects of human kindness. It earns its humanism. It gets a 3.5 out of 5 or a B+.
- Gene Stupnitsky
- John Phillips
- Mychael Danna
- Jessica Rose Weiss
- June 23, 2023