Can an outdated premise survive in the modern politically correct world? I guess the answer is yes, judging by the popularity of this movie. No Hard Feelings is a modern take on an old-school sex comedy premise of an older woman seducing a younger guy. Starring Jennifer Lawrence and featuring a budget of $45 million, the movie was a hit. However, the ratings and reviews were not so great. I remember hearing about it when it came out and instantly thinking that this is another dull mainstream comedy. A mainstream comedy that I’m surely going to skip. And yet, upon seeing a couple of surprisingly positive comments online, I decided to give it a go.
No Hard Feelings is a movie about Percy, a sheltered 19-year-old whose parents decide to find him a girl before he goes to college. It tackles a lot of modern issues like helicopter parents and the alienation of teens. It does this through the lens of a wealthy family that’s juxtaposed with the poor working-class girl struggling for money. And right away you can see several glaring issues that pop their ugly head in this supposedly easygoing romantic sex comedy. First of all, what would happen if Percy was a young and sheltered girl? A young and sheltered girl whose parents have hired an older man to “break her in” before she goes to college.
Supposedly, the movie is based on a real ad one of the writers saw and I have little doubt that there are these types of ads. However, whenever the story revolves around these rich fucks I instantly get a bad feeling in my stomach. Luckily, this issue is balanced by the struggles of Jennifer Lawrence’s character Becky. She shines a light on this issue, taking it somewhat out of the picture. I know I’m getting a bit heavy with all of this but I can’t help noticing these things. Moving on, Jennifer was excellent here. She has that adorable pitch-perfect delivery that makes the whole thing work. Plus, she was willing to do a full-frontal nudity scene.
I’m saying that because she had to balls to actually do it and not use a stunt double. However, I do find it odd that we didn’t get any male full-frontal nudity, or any for that matter. The other part of the couple is young Andrew Barth Feldman who plays Percy. His honest and committed performance was just as good as Jennifer’s. Apart from them, we also have Matthew Broderick who was once that teenager but now he finds himself in the role of an aging dad. Now, when they showed us how Percy spends his days, I didn’t see anything wrong with what he’s doing. The first twenty minutes were kind of rocky, I’m not going to lie.
That whole roller-skating thing didn’t work out as well as they thought it was going to. And there were too many quick cuts that were messing with the atmosphere. However, once we get past that, No Hard Feelings starts to find its rhythm and remains engaging till the end. I have to admit that I laughed out loud at a couple of scenes. Some of them took me off guard, like the one on the beach. And some of them were just good jokes and gags. As you already know, I tend to avoid both mainstream and romantic comedies. I watch only the ones that have something different about them.
No Hard Feelings has that something and I can comfortably say that this is a movie worth watching. It’s charming and sweet and it also shines a spotlight on a couple of intriguing concepts. Some of that light is unintentional but it’s still light nonetheless. For example, people were quite outraged (I don’t know why really) about the 15-year age gap between Percy and Maddie. Director and writer of this movie, Gene Stupnitsky pointed out that nobody had a problem with the same thing in Silver Linings Playbook, where Jennifer Lawrence was the younger one.
Director: Gene Stupnitsky
Writers: Gene Stupnitsky, John Phillips
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Andrew Barth Feldman, Laura Benanti, Matthew Broderick, Natalie Morales
Fun Facts: Andrew Barth Feldman, who plays Percy a character who’s going to Princeton, in real life had to postpone his enrolment at Harvard to do this movie.