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'No Hard Feelings' Review

LightsCameraJackson LightsCameraJackson Critic Jennifer Lawrence is known for starring in R-rated comedies. She won an Oscar for her performance in one (“Silver Linings Playbook”) and was nominated the next year for her work in another (“American Hustle”). But “No Hard Feelings” is Lawrence’s entry into the raunchy R-rated comedy genre, and it’s not where she belongs.

Lawrence plays Maddie. She lives in Montauk, NY and is in desperate need of a new car and money to save the family house. She sees a Craiglist ad from wealthy parents who want someone to date their 19-year-old introverted son for the summer, to bring Percy out of his shell before he goes off to Princeton in the fall. Percy is played by Andrew Barth Feldman, Broadway’s Evan Hansen from 2019 to 2020.

His mom and dad (Laura Benanti and Matthew Broderick) will give Maddie a new Buick Regal if she and Percy have sex. Maddie wants this to happen right away, so she tries to “lure” Percy, in one of the most tasteless scenes of the year. Percy, of course, hopes to form a real connection with her which, no surprise, is probably going to backfire once the truth is revealed. It’s a “keep a secret” storyline — and you know the beats that are coming.

“No Hard Feelings” is inspired by a very similar, actual Craigslist ad, and it’s definitely an attention-grabbing hook for a movie. Unique hooks are what director Gene Stupnitsky has focused on lately. This is his feature film follow-up to 2019’s “Good Boys” — the R-rated comedy with Jacob Tremblay and fellow pre-teen pals getting into trouble. And Stupnitsky also served as co-creator of Amazon Freevee’s very funny, original and successful comedy series, “Jury Duty”.

Unlike that show, “No Hard Feelings” is basically embarrassing situations and forced comedy bits from beginning to end. There are a number of “outrageous” moments — some appeared in the trailer (now just extended), others are saved for the film — and may make you gasp. Lawrence bares all in a beach fight scene that is a new career low. (And I suffered through “Red Sparrow” and “Don’t Look Up”.)

Stupnitsky and co-writer John Phillips attempt to incorporate legitimate heart and drama (including family woes and Percy’s piano performance of the Hall & Oates’ “Maneater”), but results are uneven. A couple of minor “twists” and plot maneuvers just don’t make sense (audience members at the screening I attended questioned them out loud). And the film presents mixed signals in its messages and values about relationships.

Here’s my feeling: It’s a Hard Pass.

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LightsCameraJackson LightsCameraJackson Critic

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