Jennifer Lawrence is best known for her Oscar winning roles — or Mystique and Katniss — but as great as she is at drama, she’s even better at comedy. A naturally loveable goofball for anyone who’s ever seen her in interviews, she has a huge knack for comedy. And in No Hard Feelings, she gets to let her goof flag fly. Lucky for her, she’s provided a script that can keep up with her quick wit from co-writer/director Gene Stupnitsky.
Best known for his work on TV with The Office and more recently Jury Duty, Stupnitsky was also responsible for the underrated Good Boys. The man knows how to mix comedy with drama surprisingly well and that the key to comedy is how straight it’s played. No Hard Feelings may be getting marketed as an American Pie-style comedy, but there’s a good amount of drama, along with a super dose of sweetness. With its Rhode Island setting, it’s also one of the best Farrelly Brothers films they didn’t make.
Maddie (Lawrence) is still dealing with the death of her mother. The only thing she has left to cling to is the house she grew up in. But due to having not paid her taxes, it’s about to be taken away. Lucky for her, she comes across an ad from Allison and Laird Becker (Laura Benanti and Matthew Broderick), a couple asking for help from someone to bring their 19 year old son Percy (Andrew Barth Feldman) out of his shell before he heads to college. Thinking she’s up to the challenge, Maddie is in for more than she thinks, with life lessons, and hilarious shenanigans, ensuing for all.
It’s been a while since a hard R-rated comedy was in theaters. Considering the glutton we received after the rise of Judd Apatow and his motley band of hilarious filth makers, it was only a matter of time before the genre was back. At least so long as No Hard Feelings does well for Sony. Audience reception will be key to box office returns, and I can’t help but feel that the younger audience may feel put off by the sweet and sour mix who won’t want to feel things when they just came to laugh. But adults will find plenty to laugh at while finding characters they actually like — something of a rarity when it comes to these kinds of comedies.
Stupnitsky gives Lawrence plenty of material to chew on from both sides of the coin, but it’s Feldman’s performance that really seals the deal. The two play impeccably off of each other and there was clearly room for improvisation on set. The film never lags and is incredibly sweet no matter how low the jokes go. After a slight acting hiatus, it’s great to see Lawrence back on the big screen and completely leaning into the raunch.
It’s also smart enough for callback jokes and making adults as empathetic as Percy, whose character is never once the true butt of a joke. No Hard Feelings may be awkwardly titled — and honestly doesn’t really make any sense. Make no mistake, this is one of the summer’s funniest films, and hopefully audiences will get off their couch to ensure more films like this get made so we can continue the good fight to make moviegoing fun again.