“No Hard Feelings”


Metacritic (7/10), Letterboxd (2.5/5), Imdb.com (7/10), TMDB.com (3.5/5)

It’s always a pleasure to come across a film that surprises, and writer-director Gene Stupnitsky’s second feature outing does just that. When this edgy romantic comedy was released earlier in 2023, I must admit that it didn’t strike me as terribly interesting or engaging, coming across as yet another piece of starry-eyed amorous fluff (albeit a tad more suggestive than most) that could nevertheless be easily dismissed. However, in light of the picture recently earning a Golden Globe Award nomination for Jennifer Lawrence’s bawdy yet uproarious performance for best lead actress in a comedy, I decided to give it a look. And I must admit I was favorably impressed to have watched a rom-com that’s genuinely laugh-out-loud funny, full of ample unexpected moments of hilarity. This delightful, delicious cinematic nugget tells the story of a pair of wealthy, overbearing helicopter parents (Laura Benanti, Matthew Broderick) who have coddled their 19-year-old intelligent, sensitive son (Andrew Barth Feldman) into becoming a virtual social hermit. They’re concerned that, as he prepares to enter college, he’s unprepared for life in the real world, so they place an ad on Craigslist to find a woman who can help bring him out of his shell. They end up hiring an energetic, quirky yet drama-prone and financially strapped 32-year-old (Lawrence) who’s down on her luck and could use the work to help keep her from losing the home that’s been in her family for years. Thus begins an unlikely but hilarious relationship between a pair of obviously mismatched “partners.” While the film falls prey to some sappy, sentimental rom-com tropes, it successfully manages to counter those trite trappings with an array of improbable but rib-tickling surprises that enliven a genre that all too often is far too predictable for its own good. “No Hard Feelings” may not break new ground in the world of cinema, but it’s a fun way to spend a few hours stretched out on the couch in your PJs with a big bowl of popcorn, one that’s sure to put a smile on your face without having to force it and maybe leave you a little worn out from all the belly laughs.