Coming to theatres from director writer/director Gene Stupnitsky and Sony Pictures to start the summer season is the comedy NO HARD FEELINGS.
Maddie (Jennifer Lawrence) lives in the family home in the beach community of Montauk. Inherited from her mother, she also inherited the property taxes that go along with it. Working as a bartender and Uber driving, Maddie is keeping her head just above the water line. That is until her car is repossessed and now, she is getting around via another set of wheels.
Hanging out with friends Sarah (Natalie Morales) and Jim (Scott MacArthur), they find a Craigs List posting from parents Allison (Laura Benanti) and Laird Becker (Matthew Broderick) offering up a car if someone can bring their college bound son Percy (Andrew Barth Feldman) out of his shell.
Meeting the parents, everyone is clear on what is expected of Maddie and she embraces the challenge. Dressing up for her new part, Maddie goes to visit Percy at the local animal shelter and she pours it on. Percy does not seem moved by all the candy she is throwing his way and Maddie’s ups her game.
Seeing each other again and again, Maddie and Percy begin to learn about each other but it doesn’t mean that Maddie has given up on getting the car. That being said, she does start to really see Percy and what an amazing young man he is. The problem is the one big secret she is keeping is the one big secret that could hurt them both in ways she couldn’t imagine.
Lawrence as Maddie brings the comic relief in jaw dropping and hysterical ways. She is the life of the film bringing slapstick and one-liners faster than a tourist eating a lobster roll. Maddie clearly hates the invasion of the rich into Montauk so agreeing to crack the shell of one for a car doesn’t seem like a stretch. Lawrence clearly took a role that tested her comedy chops and she made it look easy.
Feldman as Percy is a young man who is either in his room or at the local animal shelter volunteering. His parents are worried because he just doesn’t seem to be enjoying life. Feldman gives his character so much range between quiet to entertaining with everything in between but deep within his portrayal is a young man with his own story to tell.
Benanti as Allison is, I think, the reason that Percy is as Percy is. She has all the signs of a mother who says she wants her son to come out of his shell but does nothing to have made that happen. Broderick as Laird is the dad who really wants her son to experience the same fun he had growing up, maybe a little too much fun. It’s like Ferris Bueller grew up and can’t believe his son has no Bueller in him! Hilarious!
Morales and McArthur as friends Sarah and Jim try to keep Maddie out of trouble and made me laugh in the process of doing it. Morales gets a chance to show who is boss in the marriage and takes Maddie just as she is. McArthur is a husband who just needs to stay in the ocean (you’ll get it) but he is sweet in his own way.
Other cast include Kyle Mooney as Jody, Jordan Mendoza as Crispin, Hasan Minhaj as Doug Kahn, Amalia Yoo as Natalie, Alysia Powell as Fern, Quincy Dunn-Baker as Travis and Ebon Moss-Bachrach as Gary.
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NO HARD FEELINGS breaks the ridiculously sad film cycle as of late. It brings laughs, jaw drops, hilarity and just a good time to theatre seats. That translates to starting off the summer season the best way possible. This is the film that brings groups together to experience it together and laugh all the way out the theatre door.
Lawrence brings her own brand to the film and there is a particular scene where I’m not sure if she’s an MMA fighter or a clothing aficionado but I do know I couldn’t stop laughing and neither could the audience. In the midst of it all, Lawrence gives her character a bit of heart and warmth which just adds to the likeability of her character. Feldman is trying to see the world through Maddie’s eyes and let me just say his interpretation almost caused me to shoot soda out my nose!
The premise is not all that new but then again there is no need to reinvent the rom-com wheel. Instead, this is just a fun time at the theatre with a film that doesn’t need to be dissected nor explained to the point of conspiracy theories. The only action and big explosions are the hilarious ones brought on by Lawrence and Feldman.
It is popcorn, friends, humor, fun and reminiscent of a time when all of that was important when going to the movies.
In the end – pretty and awkward!