No Hard Feelings review: "Taste and laughs are in slim supply in Jennifer Lawrence's latest"

Jennifer Lawrence and Andrew Barth Feldman in No Hard Feelings
(Image: © Sony)

GamesRadar+ Verdict

Taste and laughs are in equally slim supply in Jennifer Lawrence’s latest, from which only her fresh-faced co-star emerges untarnished.

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From the burst of mace she gets in the face to the various blows she receives to her gullet and crotch, Jennifer Lawrence takes a lot of farcical punishment in this bawdy comedy from Good Boys director Gene Stupnitsky. 

Yet that’s nothing to what the audience is put through by this tawdry tale of a Long Island 30-something who’s so on her uppers she accepts a wealthy couple’s offer to befriend, seduce, and deflower their nerdy Princeton-bound son.

‘I’m not a sex worker!’ Lawrence’s Maddie Barker tells Laird (Matthew Broderick) and Allison Becker (Laura Benanti) before she commences her fauxmance with Andrew Barth Feldman’s 19-year-old Percy. But seeing how she’ll be given a new car for her services, that’s possibly just a matter of semantics in a film that struggles throughout to escape the inherent grubbiness of its sordid and demeaning scenario.

There’s no doubting the gusto J-Law brings to her enterprising heroine. The Oscar-winning star gamely gives her all to scenes that have her grappling beach thieves while naked or awkwardly ascending a staircase in a cumbersome pair of rollerblades. 

What’s harder to fathom is why she chose this project to be her mainstream comeback vehicle, dated as it is not just by its echoes of the Porky’s and American Pie franchises of yesteryear but also by its regressive sexual politics. 

That Feldman provides an endearing and charming foil as her fumbling swain is of scant solace in what feels like a bemusing and frequently tone-deaf misstep for those involved. 

No Hard Feelings is in UK cinemas now and in US cinemas on June 23. 

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Freelance Writer

Neil Smith is a freelance film critic who has written for several publications, including Total Film. His bylines can be found at the BBC, Film 4 Independent, Uncut Magazine, SFX Magazine, Heat Magazine, Popcorn, and more.