It’s fair to say that the comedy genre hit a bit of a slump these past couple of years as few comedy films were being made. This caused many moviegoers to question whether they would see a true comedy film again — or was the beloved genre truly “dead” altogether?
To much surprise, this year proved that the near-forgotten genre is, in fact, much alive as there were four comedy film debuts just this summer. The one to start this unforeseen return was Gene Stupnitsky’s film “No Hard Feelings,” which is now available to stream on Netflix.
The film centers around Maddie Barker (Jennifer Lawrence), a 32-year-old bartender and Uber driver who is on a mission to save her house from becoming foreclosed on. However, her main source of income, Uber driving, takes an unexpected pause when Maddie’s car gets repossessed for not paying her property taxes. Desperate for a new car, Maddie accepts an unusual Craigslist ad from a wealthy, overbearing couple who are seeking someone to “date” their introverted and awkward 19-year-old son Percy (Andrew Barth Feldman) in exchange for a Buick Regal. Maddie thinks this scheme will be easy, but Percy proves to be more of a challenge than she originally thought.
The premise of “No Hard Feelings” is sold as a raunchy comedy that draws many laugh-out-loud moments from the awkwardness and hilarity of its characters. This selling point did not disappoint as the audience got exactly that and even more. From Percy drinking his first-ever Long Island iced tea to Maddie trying to take back her towed car, the audience laughs at nearly every scene in this movie. But as the story progressed, this entertaining film became more than just a comedy as viewers saw the plot develop into a beautiful and heartfelt coming-of-age story.
From the start, Maddie’s view of the relationship was transactional as she hoped to date Percy as quickly as possible to receive her Buick Regal. However, the more she got to know Percy the more she grew fond of him as a friend. This created a charming relationship between the two, even though Percy’s feelings were a bit stronger than just a friendship. You see this development in the beautiful dinner scene when Maddie forces Percy to perform a song on the piano for her. As he begins to sing “Maneater” by Daryl Hall and John Oates, the song assumes a special significance. This performance, which was only spurred by an awkward conversation between the two turns into a profound moment as Maddie realizes that she truly cares for Percy. This scene changed the audience’s viewpoint of the film from being just a raunchy comedy to a tear-jerking one.
The film’s progression also showed how their relationship helped each other grow and mature. From the very beginning, Maddie is shown as an outspoken and noncommittal person who is too scared to move on from her past and show her true self. Percy came across as the complete opposite. He was a shy, introvert who spent most of his time watching TikTok videos and playing video games. However, once the two began to spend time together and understand each other, they helped guide one another to become better versions of themselves. For Maddie that is moving on in life instead of just settling, and for Percy that is becoming more socially open and less dependent on his parents. Seeing their character development flourish was such a heartwarming experience, and left the audience emotional up until the very end.
Overall, “No Hard Feelings” exceeds a comedy fan’s expectations. The film brought back the beloved genre with its refreshing take on a sex comedy that consisted of modern jokes and hilarious stunts, while also telling a touching coming-of-age story about two individuals. As a result, this movie is one you don’t want to miss as it will keep you laughing throughout the entire film and leave you wanting to rewatch it repeatedly.