To say that I’m disappointed right now would be the ultimate understatement. I’ve been looking forward to No Hard Feelings for quite some time; raunchy comedies are hard to come by these days, especially headlined by a star like Jennifer Lawrence. Unfortunately, the movie fails to live up to the very low standards I have for most comedies.
It’s not unreasonable to sit down and watch a comedy movie expecting to laugh. A forgettable story and performances are forgivable on the contingency that the film delivers a few sidesplitting laughs. No Hard Feelings opens as a serviceable comedy that sadly spends the entire movie running away from the only thing about it that works.
No Hard Feelings review: An unfunny comedy that Jennifer Lawrence makes watchable
What’s so incredibly disappointing about No Hard Feelings is it isn’t far off the mark from something not only passable, but genuinely funny. The first act of the movie earns some chuckles but feels like a segue into some heavier laughs later in the film. What feels like a slow start unfortunately amounts to the strongest portion of the movie—the second half is mostly a drag, loaded with unfunny jokes and awkward audience silences.
With Jennifer Lawrence as the star to couple with an R-rating, it shouldn’t be that hard to piece together a truly great comedy. Her character, Maddie Barker, is a woman in her early 30s whose life has passed her by, still living in her mother’s house clinging on to morsels of her past. She’s broke, she sleeps around, has trust and attachment issues, and overall just makes poor life choices—and it’s hilarious.
In any movie, there has to be a certain level of character and plot development, but the choice—in a comedy nonetheless—to run in the opposite direction of what’s sure to earn the most laughs is puzzling, to say the least. No Hard Feelings dissipates from a comedy into a bizarre love/friendship drama that will leave you tilting your head wondering, “why are we spending so much time on this?” There’s some light humor scattered throughout, but the movie is maybe 30% as funny as it should be.
‘No Hard Feelings’ struggles to find an identity worth committing to
Based on trailers, No Hard Feelings seemed to be in line with early 2000s comedies (American Pie, Superbad), raunchy and without limit, pushing the boundaries of what’s appropriate. Aside from a few scenes, the film does not lean into this bygone era and instead relies on more modern tropes that are significantly less funny.
The first act seems to have things figured out, enjoyable scenes and jokes that are scarcely seen in the modern filmmaking world. It feels simultaneously familiar and fresh. By the third act, Jennifer Lawrence is running through a house of college kids recording her on Instagram Live trying to cancel her for an inappropriate, misconceived comment. It’s at this point that the train is completely off the tracks with no hope for redemption.
Jennifer Lawrence carries this movie from the opening credits to the end. Without her, it would almost certainly earn some walkouts, especially in the final half hour. Instead of rejoicing over Lawrence adding a career-amplifying comedy performance to her belt, it’s hard not to think about what could have been.
‘No Hard Feelings’ is a wasted opportunity
Jennifer Lawrence has been candid during promotion for this movie, mentioning that she’s always wanted to do an R-rated comedy, she was just waiting for the right one. She, unfortunately, chose to hitch her wagon to the wrong horse, and she deserves better for her debut into the world of comedy.
Overall, No Hard Feelings offers little more than a few light chuckles and makes some bamboozling creative choices that severely weigh down the movie. The good news is, whenever Jennifer Lawrence next decides to dip her toes back into the comedy game, there’s nowhere to go but up.
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'No Hard Feelings' Review'No Hard Feelings' Review
- Jennifer Lawrence
- Some light chuckles
- Bad misfires on jokes
- Weird creative choices throughout
- Story focused more on heart than humor