Jennifer Lawrence has constantly shown her versatility on the big screen, whether it’s her chilling breakout performance in Winter’s Bone, her action heroics in The Hunger Games franchise, or her quirky charm in Silver Linings Playbook, the latter of which would earn her an Oscar for Best Actress. At first glance, seeing her star in a raunchy sex comedy might seem like a step in the opposite direction for her career but in actuality its a testament to just how talented an actor she is. There’s no holding back Jennifer Lawrence as she fully commits to delivering a sexy slapstick routine that’ll leave you in stitches. If laughter is the best medicine then No Hard Feelings is just what the doctor ordered.
32-year-old Maddie (Lawrence) has spent her entire life in Montauk, New York, but an increase in property taxes results in her car being repossessed and her home on the brink of foreclosure. No longer able to work as an Uber driver, Maddie answers a Craigslist ad from two parents who are looking for a young woman to “date” their shy 19-year-old son before he goes off to college in exchange for a car. With no other options Maddie makes a deal with the parents and meets Percy (Andrew Barth Feldman), doing her best to seduce him but struggles to seal the deal due to his shy and oblivious nature. Getting a car for the summer is not going to be as easy as she thought.
No Hard Feelings gives an initial impression of a sex comedy out of the 80s, but thankfully the film doesn’t make everything into a “that’s what she said” joke. Sure, there is plenty of raunchy adult humor, but the film’s core centers around the dynamic between Maddie and Percy. Montauk is a vacation town where rich people spend their summers, and growing up there Maddie has seen her fair share of wealthy people come, flaunt their money, and then leave. Her father was one of them, getting her mother pregnant and then leaving with his real family once summer vacation was over. It’s why she has resentment towards the wealthy and why she has trouble with commitment. Sex is no big deal for her so she doesn’t have any issue in making a deal with Percy’s parents for a car.
Percy on the other hand is more reserved. Sure, sex sounds thrilling and exciting but he wants it to be with someone special. He’s going to make Maddie earn it, even though he isn’t aware of the deal she made with his parents. Their relationship that ensues works twofold; not only does it bring Percy out of his shell more and give him confidence, but it all helps Maddie to truly care about others and herself. Sex is great an all but emotional intimacy is where it’s really at nowadays. There’s a moment in the film where a terrified Percy plays the piano inside a packed restaurant for Maddie. Andrew Barth Feldman kills his softened rendition of “Maneater” but it’s Jennifer Lawrence who steals the scene with just one look as you see her face transform from being proud to see Percy gaining confidence to happiness and fear because she’s realizing she actually cares deeply about him. Her performance elevates No Hard Feelings into something more than just a comedy.
Jennifer Lawrence goes all in, giving the impression that there is nothing she wouldn’t do if it made a role better. She is downright hysterical as Maddie. If that means doing a suplex on someone while naked because they stole your clothes then so be it, she’s game. Her dedication to getting the laugh is what makes the film work. She can be provocative and it’s hilarious, but she also has the skill to turn in something more nuanced when necessary. No Hard Feelings doesn’t hold anything back and neither does she.
No Hard Feelings hits that sweet spot in the comedy genre that feels like it has been missing from theaters. It proves that there is room for films other than big studio blockbusters and indie Oscar contenders. Jennifer Lawrence is capable of doing it all, and the film takes full advantage of it with a hilarious comedy that is as insightful as it is funny. No Hard Feelings delivers only the best of feelings.
There’s no holding back Jennifer Lawrence as she fully commits to delivering a sexy slapstick routine that’ll leave you in stitches. If laughter is the best medicine then No Hard Feelings is just what the doctor ordered.