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No Hard Feelings (2023)

In desperate need of a new car, Maddie Barker (Jennifer Lawrence) stumbles across a CraigsList ad in which two parents want someone to “date” their college-bound son–with the promise of a Buick in return. Without any other options, Maddie decides that it’s in her best interest to do what they ask and begin dating nineteen-year-old Percy (Andrew Barth Feldman). While she hopes there are No Hard Feelings between her and the innocent Percy, this is just business, and anything goes.

Writer-Director Gene Stupnitsky is credited in taking part in the production of things such as The Office and Good Boys, hilariously funny projects that captivated audiences. With a resume like that, even if it’s not extensive, seeing him as the head of No Hard Feelings created a level of expectation–and surely not just by me.

The first few minutes of the film are harrowing, miss after miss in terms of comedy–and it immediately seemed like No Hard Feelings would go limp early on, never able to get going. I’m not sure what it was about the first few minutes of the film, why it was that Stupnitsky and his Co-Writer John Phillips couldn’t find rhythm at the start–but after about ten minutes something changed. The tone of the film shifts and it seems that this team was no longer trying too hard to be funny, but simply leaning into what seemed to come so naturally in other projects. Raunchy comedy makes its way to the forefront of No Hard Feelings, and it refuses to relent, refuses to back down, and it only gets stronger as the film progresses. Viewers become immersed in a world of dirty humor that ranges from in your face to incredibly subtle–and, again, after the opening few minutes of the film, it seems that Stupnitsky and his team couldn’t miss.

No Hard Feelings is a comedy through and through, but it develops drama throughout as well. That drama is essential to the film, to keep it grounded and accessible. While the concept of the film is based on a real CraigsList ad, it seems incredibly farfetched and difficult to accept as a realistic possibility. However, the drama that develops, and Feldman is one of the primary reasons that drama comes to life, viewers are able to understand and appreciate the array of unique and odd scenarios that they see depicted on screen. The juxtaposition of comedy and drama keeps No Hard Feelings moving forward at just the right pace, delivering comedy at just the right moments and effectively helping to develop a hilarious film.

No one expected to walk into No Hard Feelings and see a film that was cinematically stellar; that’s just not the sort of film it is. The cinematography and such is average, truly nothing to write home about–and by the end of the film things become a tad choppy and underwhelming (with the exception of that beautiful marriage of comedy and drama). I don’t expect to see any Oscar nominations in the future for No Hard Feelings, but Stupinsky knows exactly what his film needs, and he does his job effectively every step of the way.

I wanted No Hard Feelings to be the next hard-hitting comedy, the film that allowed me to sit in the theater and forget about life for an hour and a half, laughing at the absurd, raunchy comedy from beginning to end. I got everything that I asked for and more. Lawrence and Feldman have incredible chemistry, which is a major reason why the comedy lands throughout the course of the film. I laughed almost endlessly, and I can’t wait to watch this film again.

Directed by Gene Stupnitsky.

Written by Gene Stupnitsky & John Phillips.

Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Andrew Barth Feldman, Laura Benanti, Matthew Broderick, Natalie Morales, Scott MacArthur, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, etc.




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