“You got to go down a lot of wrong roads to find the right one.” - Bob Parsons
She’s done action movies, dramas, thrillers, sci-fi, superhero and now she’s tackling her first full-fledged raunchy comedy with No Hard Feelings. I would argue Jennifer Lawrence’s first comedy is Don’t Look Up but despite its funnier scenes it very much lies in the gray area of comedy and drama. With No Hard Feelings she is fully committed to the physical, quick witted humor of an R rated comedy reminiscent of something from the early 2010s. In the age of the professionally offended and outraged, a raunchy comedy like this seems to be something of a rarity these days. So however much of a cliché this movie can be it still provides something of a fresh take on the comedies that once were much more frequent.
I always find it entertaining to watch the trajectory of an actor’s career change once they’ve attained the holy grail of awards, the Oscar. For much of their films it’s often clear they’re trying to reach the summit of Hollyweird. Once, if ever, they reach it you can often see their priorities change from awards to a more free roam kind of approach. While you’ll still see them go for the “Oscar bait” as she did after her acting hiatus with Causeway, actors tend to be more free with their choices which in my opinion can often lead to a more interesting second half of their career. Case in point, after a stellar collection of Oscar worthy moments from Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle to Joy and the aforementioned Causeway, she’s now diving into the deep end of comedy with her latest performance.
No Hard Feelings is about a thirty-something woman on the precipice of losing her family home to an absurd amount of overdue bills. With her main form of income being an Uber driver, losing her vehicle would of course be a terrible turn of events. Naturally that’s exactly what happens and so her options of what to do turn to the extremes like starting an OnlyFans to being a full blown escort. She ends up somewhere in the middle as she answers an ad from two wealthy parents trying to break their nineteen year old son out of his lifelong slump of zero socializing. What follows is a concoction of horny bedlam and hilarity.
Much like many who are her character’s age she finds herself in a weird gray area where she’s not really young anymore but she’s still very much in the later stage of her youth. As a comedian once said, if you’re at a certain age people will come running to help if you fall but if you’re under the age of fifty no one cares and everyone laughs at you. That’s where I find myself at this moment of my life. If anything it’s certainly humbling. Lawrence’s character, Maddie, is trying to find her place in life as she looks to the days of her twenties completely behind her and in front of her a seemingly desolate wasteland of zero life prospects. She’s scared and trying to hold onto the last thing from a time in her life when things felt just a little bit less fleeting.
Rather than just a foul mouthed, mindless comedy like we’ve seen a million times, it explores the themes of fading youth and what it can look like, in a comedic light of course, as someone tries to hold on just a little bit longer. In that desperate grasping of what was, she sinks her claws into Percy, played by Andrew Barth Feldman. No Hard Feelings has plenty taken from so many other comedies but what makes it work is the chemistry between the two leads. And both contribute in very different ways somehow meeting cohesively in the middle like a setting sun into the ocean’s horizon.
Lawrence jumps head first into being the raunch in a raunchy comedy. She curses like a sailor, physically commits to every bit and goes for gold in the most awkward moments of trying to sexually unhinge a young, shy, somewhat prudish but idealistic young man. She confirms that as funny as she is just being Jennifer Lawrence, she can translate her natural ability to get a laugh into a worthwhile, comedic performance. And as she’s ridiculously trying to throw herself at this young man, he reciprocates as a naturally humble person. Feldman, in a very explicit movie, manages to ground it with a surprisingly touching and delicate performance. He is nervous and permeates a kind of innocence that is a lovely breath of fresh air in an otherwise filthy themed movie. He is a perfect counterbalance to her over-the-top commitment to the bit of an older woman trying and failing gloriously to seduce a hermit rarely willing to leave his bedroom.
No Hard Feelings isn’t a turn in a new direction demanding to be seen. It’s a return to something we haven’t had in a while and I think for many of us, we’ve missed it. It’s been done before but everyone involved does it to the best of their respective abilities. The end result is a funny, heartfelt comedy that just so happens to feature one of the most brazen, arguably graphic scenes I’ve ever seen an Oscar winner commit to post award win. And to that I say, good for her. And when you see it, good for us too.
Rated R For: sexual content, language, some graphic nudity and brief drug use
Runtime: 103 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Andrew Barth Feldman, Matthew Broderick, Natalie Morales
Directed By: Gene Stupnitsky
Out of 10
Story: 7/ Acting: 8.5/ Directing: 7/ Visuals: 8
Buy to Own: Yes
Check out the trailer below: