“No Hard Feelings,” directed by Gene Stupnitsky, is a breezy, irreverent N16 comedy that’s sure to tickle the funny bone of comedy enthusiasts and beyond.
The film’s protagonist, Maddie (Jennifer Lawrence), a carefree, non-committal Uber driver and bartender at a local bar, ends up not only losing her car, one of her main sources of income, due to debt, but also the house she has inherited from her mother, which is crucial for her to keep.
Living in the resort town of Montauk, New York, she strongly criticizes wealthy people who come to spend their summers in her hometown and raise the land tax. Looking for a quick and cheap way to get a car to work so she can keep her house, she stumbles across an online ad in which wealthy parents Alison (Laura Benatti) and Laird (Matthew Broderick) are looking for a girl who can help their shut-in, introverted, self-conscious son Percy (Andrew Barth Feldman), who is about to leave in the autumn to study at Princeton University, to open up and build up his confidence.
In return, they give him a Buick Regal—not a new car, but a clean one. Unsure whether the advertisement is genuine, Maddie decides to give it a try, and, although she is a little older than Percy’s parents would like, she gets the job and takes it.
Jennifer Lawrence (Maddie) and Andrew Barth Feldman (Percy) in “No Hard Feelings” screencap. It is interesting to note that the director was inspired to make this film by a similar advertisement sent to him by a colleague four years ago. “I thought, what kind of people put up ads like that—those overprotective and over-interested helicopter parents who hire tutors for everything, even for such things? Then I thought, – who responds to such ads, and what is going on in her life?” – said the director during an interview with Sarah Bradbury from The Upcoming.
Actress Jennifer Lawrence, who got the leading part in the movie, played the role of Maddie flawlessly. This was not only due to her natural talent for acting and her range, but also to the fact that the role was written for her and was in the director’s mind from the very beginning.
Up until now, she has mostly appeared in more serious movies, and “No Hard Feelings” seemed to give her a way to move to a new level—the comedy genre—which suits her very well. “<…> She’s so funny in this movie that even though I’m quite biased, her performance for this film is one of my favorite performances of hers in general.”— praised the director.
Andrew Barth Feldman, who portrayed Percy, stood out from the beginning during auditions, and to confirm his suitability for the role, they assessed another 700 candidates. Stupnitsky believed he was perfect for the part due to a unique quality that caught his attention. The director’s primary concern was their ability to collaborate effectively, and in his view, their partnership proved to be seamless and highly successful, showcasing undeniable chemistry and an excellent match. This is also clearly visible in the movie itself.
“No Hard Feelings” is relatively short (1h 43 min), but it contains a lot. Many different ideas intertwine to form a single story. It portrays parents who are overprotective of their children and who interfere in their lives too much and too often, as well as the so-called Generation Z, who spend most of their time on their phones or on the internet, and it also emphasizes a certain generational difference, which is particularly evident in some of the film’s scenes.
The first part of it is very spontaneous, unpredictable, and comical, not only making you laugh and smile but also, at times, maybe cringe (not in a bad way), which leaves you wondering “Why would someone do that?”.
And the second half of the movie focuses more on self-reflection, on the emotional change and growth of the characters, and on the recognition of their mistakes and their decisions. The mood is mainly sentimental, but there are also elements of comedy in the first half. Throughout the film, there are also poignant and funny lines of dialogue and swearing. Visually, the film is also beautiful to look at, with a retro feel to it.
In the last few years, thrillers, action, horror, and fantasy movies have been the most popular genres in cinema, so when a comedy hits the screens, it can feel refreshing.
“No Hard Feelings” is a very summery, light-hearted movie designed to have a good time and a good laugh, so it is not too demanding and is perfect for just relaxing, not thinking, and having a good time.
Gene Stupnitsky is a Ukrainian-American director, probably best known for his movies “Good Boys”, “Bad Teacher”, and the TV series “The Office”, which he contributed to and even appeared in one episode.