The raunchy comedy is something we have lost over the years. While it had success in the 2010s with 'The Hangover' franchise and 'Ted', it declined as more subversive and "fresh" titles came and took the ranges, tied with the rise of streaming and as comedy's theatrical space grew smaller. 'No Hard Feelings' hopes to only give the subgenre new life by bringing Jennifer Lawrence back to the big screen.
Maddie Barker (Lawrence, 'The Hunger Games' franchise, 'Mother!') has just lost her car and being an Uber driver this puts her at a crossroads as she needs the money to save her childhood home. A mother (Laura Benanti, 'tick, tick...BOOM!', Binge's 'Gossip Girl') and father (Matthew Broderick, 'Wonder Park', 'Manchester by the Sea', 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off') have put out an ad on Craigslist to date their 19-year-old son, Percy (Andrew Barth Feldman, Disney+'s 'High School Musical: The Musical: The Series'), who has never had a girlfriend, and bring him out of his shell before he goes off to college. Maddie accepts this and gets to work straight away, but weighs up both her morals and her genuine friendship growing with Percy.
While it tries, 'No Hard Feelings' never really lives up to its promise. While there are some funny moments, it seems more focused on the dramatics of the narrative than being a fun time. It gets too stuck on Maddie saving the house that there just isn't much room for laughs. All the big jokes are in the trailer, and after the screening I can't say any comedy beats really stuck with me. Lawrence and Feldman do have great chemistry and you can feel that this was an enjoyable shoot, but none of that leaps over to the final product.
The film's reliance on heart over comedy really weighs this down. What could have been an all-out balls-to-the-wall entertaining film gets mixed up and the two never really met. I understand grounding it, but in a comedy be a comedy and have fun with that, especially with a movie with this plot you could have gone so far with the laughs but they never really get there.
Also, Percy's parents, Broderick and Benanti, have an almost 20 years age gap in real life and that's never addressed in the film. Their casting felt so strange and just not believable as a couple who have a son going to college.
'No Hard Feelings' is an adequate package, but with the advertising pushing "raunchy" it never sticks the landing. It's an enjoyable time but it's truly nothing more than a one-time watch.