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Review: We need more comedies like Jennifer Lawrence’s ‘No Hard Feelings’

(Sony Pictures)

When the trailer for “No Hard Feelings” first released, I had to do a double take. A big, raunchy, studio comedy with an A-list Hollywood star? *Insert Jumanji “What year is it?” gif*

If it were up to me, these lighthearted comedies would be all over the big screen. Alas, I don’t run Hollywood.

In 2019 it seemed like we were poised for a summer comedy renaissance, with “Booksmart,” “Long Shot” and “Good Boys” leading the charge, but then came the pandemic and wallets got tighter.

But here we are in 2023, and director Gene Stupnitsky, of the aforementioned “Good Boys,” is once again blessing us with a laugh-out-loud comedy.

“No Hard Feelings” is a hysterical combination of raunchy humor and genuine heart that allows Jennifer Lawrence to hilariously showcase the full range of her immense talent.

Jennifer Lawrence as Maddie in “No Hard Feelings.” (Sony Pictures)

Lawrence plays Maddie, a down-on-her-luck 30-something born and raised in Montauk, New York – a popular summer getaway location for wealthy city folk. After inheriting her late mother’s home, Maddie’s struggling to keep the lights on, Ubering and bartending while the bills pile up. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and sometimes that means desperate jobs.

Naturally, Maddie answers a Craigslist ad from a pair of concerned parents (Matthew Broderick and Laura Benanti) looking for someone to date their son. On the cusp of heading to college, 19-year-old Percy (Andrew Barth Feldman) lacks friends, confidence, and all around social skills. Clearly the answer to getting him out of his shell is forcing an older woman on him, right? Helicopter parents gonna helicopter.

And so, unbeknownst to Percy, Maddie begins her extreme seduction of the socially awkward teenager – all to earn the keys to an ancient Buick in an effort to save her childhood home.

Obviously, hijinks ensue.

Andrew Barth Feldman as Percy in “No Hard Feelings.” (Sony Pictures)

Make no doubt about it: Jennifer Lawrence is an absolute star.

The Oscar-winner has long been heralded for her dramatic chops, but in “No Hard Feelings” Lawrence proves she’s just as capable when it comes to comedy. Every single one of Lawrence’s jokes are delivered perfectly and always lead to laughs, whether it’s Maddie’s blunt sarcasm, double entendres, or pure “sick of this bullshit” frustration.

But beyond Lawrence’s lines, it’s her physical comedy that takes her performance to the next level – from her awkward seduction attempts to a fully-nude WWE-style smackdown on the beach.

Contrary to what its trailers may tease, “No Hard Feelings” isn’t just nonstop raunchy gags. Just like its early-2000s predecessors, there’s a heavy dose of heart here, which also allows Lawrence to flex the emotional abilities she’s known for. After starring in 2022’s stirring drama “Causeway,” Lawrence’s transition to “No Hard Feelings” truly demonstrates the caliber of her talent.

Jennifer Lawrence as Maddie and Andrew Barth Feldman as Percy in “No Hard Feelings.” (Sony Pictures)

With the emotional heart of “No Hard Feelings,” though, comes pacing issues. The film starts off strong with joke after joke establishing a certain tone and pace, but around the midway point the bits screech to a halt as the drama picks up. There are certainly still jokes here and there, but not quite at the same frequency as the first half, which makes the 104-minute runtime feel a bit long for something so brief.

As for that emotional heart… It’s still affecting thanks to Lawrence and Feldman’s strong performances, but it’s nothing new. It’s the standard “started as a job, turned into something more” trope we’ve seen time and time again, but the humor and charm of these two characters still makes it worthwhile. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel narratively, but it never needed to anyway.

With “Joy Ride,” “Strays” and “Bottoms” still on the calendar for the rest of the summer, this year could prove to finish the job 2019 started by cementing the R-rated comedy’s return to the big screen – and “No Hard Feelings” is a great place to start.

Star Rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

“No Hard Feelings” releases in theaters June 23, 2023.

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Zach Goins View All

Zach Goins is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association based in Raleigh, N.C. Zach co-founded Inside The Film Room in 2018 and serves as Editor-in-Chief of the website and co-host of the podcast. Zach also serves as a film critic for

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