No Hard Feelings

Director: Gene Stupnitsky
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Andrew Barth Feldman, Laura Benanti, Matthew Broderick, Natalie Morales, Scott MacArthur, Ebon Moss-Bachrach
Distributor: Sony Pictures
Runtime: 103 mins. Reviewed in Jun 2023
Reviewer: Fr Peter Malone msc
| JustWatch |
Rating notes: Strong sexual references, coarse language and nudity

On the brink of losing her home, Maddie finds an intriguing job listing: helicopter parents looking for someone to bring their introverted 19-year-old son out of his shell before college.

Around 20 years ago, American director, Jud Apatow, made a number of films with titles such as Knocked Up and 40-Year Old Virgin which indicated something of a raunchy show. But, this reviewer liked to use the phrase, the Jud Apatow Syndrome – because, while his comedies started with sex issues, they always finished with a higher moral tone than their earlier sequences.

And, so to No Hard Feelings, something of a smirky play on words title, is very much in the Jud Apatow Syndrome vein. It is raunchy but far less crass than the trailer seemed to indicate. There are risque scenes and double entendres as might be expected, but many of them are in the context of highly slapstick comedy. And, by the end, the episode where the 32-year-old Uber-driver, Maddie, unable to pay her taxes, about to lose the home her mother bequeathed to her, threatened with eviction, rather offhand in her relationships, agrees with a wealthy couple who want their son to come out of himself, even come out of his room more often, before he goes off to Princeton to date him (another innuendo). Her reward will be a car.

It is surprise to find Jennifer Lawrence as Maddie. Not quite in the range of her serious film roles. Andrew Barth Feldman as the son Percy does his best to be a credible nerd, bullied and put upon in the past, rather more eager to get out and around than first thought. Laura Benanti and Matthew Broderick are his parents.

The setting is contemporary America, Montauk, Long Island, mansions of the wealthy, contrasting with homes of the non-wealthy. The US comes across as a very sexualised society. Hence this story.

However, as it unfolds, the challenge for Maddie is to be less self-centred, more considerate of others. The ups and downs of her attempted seduction of Percy, the farcical episodes, gives the screenplay a little more depth than might have been anticipated. And the same with Percy and his gauche responses to Maddie. Ultimately, the fore-mention syndrome comes into play with the film moving to rather more decency and sweetness.

This is a take-it-or-leave-it kind of raunchy comedy which ultimately opt for the better choices.

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