Friday, June 23, 2023

Weekend Screen Scene: No Hard Feelings

No Hard Feelings is being marketed as a gross-out sex comedy, something akin to films like American Pie or Superbad, but it's really more of a romantic comedy than a sex one (even if star Jennifer Lawrence does appear completely naked in it; more on that later).

Lawrence plays Maddie Barker, a Montauk, NY native who is fighting to keep the house she inherited from her mother. It's been paid off, but because of Montauk's rising property values, she can't afford her property taxes. When her car is repossessed, and she can no longer work as an Uber driver, she answers a Craigslist ad from some parents looking to hire a young woman to date their introverted 19-year-old son as a kind of pre-college crash course in sexual adulthood. Payment would come in the form of a used Buick.

Percy (Andrew Barth Feldman) is of course very suspicious when this thirtysomething woman starts to come on to him, and it's a running joke that everyone who meets Maddie assumes she's anything but his romantic interest, because she's so old. Her attempts to seduce him fail multiple times because Percy has been so sheltered he hardly recognizes them as attempts at all.

One of the biggest problems with the "classic" teenage sex comedies of yore is their inherent misogyny, so I will always appreciate any attempt to update the genre, especially if that update centers on a woman, gets rid of the objectification, but still retains the raunch the genre needs.  

No Hard Feelings definitely tries, and the scene featuring a full-frontal Lawrence, in which she fights some teenagers who have stolen her clothes while she's skinny dipping, seems to be a direct comment on the genre's need for nudity. She's definitely nude, but the scene is played for laughs, not titillation. I wanted more risky moments like that, but too much of the movie takes the tame route, seemingly not understanding that a modern raunchy sex comedy can have the sex, and the raunch, and still be worthy of a star like Jennifer Lawrence.

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