Directed by Gene Stupnitsky (“Good Boys,” co-creator of Freevee’s “Jury Duty”), the film centers on Maddie Barker (Lawrence), a Montauk-based Uber driver in her early thirties on the brink of bankruptcy . When her car is repossessed by her scorned former truck driver, Gary (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), the house her late mother left her is up for grabs, and the income from her part-time bartending job partial at a seafood themed bar is far from enough to suffice. Taking to Craigslist, Maddie answers a strange job listing that offers a Buick Regal as compensation. The position: meet the 19-year-old son of a wealthy couple (Matthew Broderick and Laura Berlanti) Percy (Andrew Barth Feldman) for the summer, bring him out of his shell and pick his first cherry before he goes to Princeton University in autumn. ; all while Percy doesn’t suspect his parents’ involvement. Initially thinking the gig would be a piece of cake, Percy’s no-nonsense, awkward, angst-ridden vibe gives Maddie a run for her money.
Since leaving Creative Artists Agency in 2018, Jennifer Lawrence’s latest return to the big screen boasts a release from the intensity she delivered in her last few roles. Her days of prestigious Oscar bait and being a franchise star who was tired in her performances are over. Today, with each new project, her agency and freedom are prominent. On “No Hard Feelings,” Lawrence proudly lets her freak flag fly.
As the unbridled, cynical Maddie, Lawrence returns to her comedic roots from 2007’s The Bill Engvall Show and permeates every aspect of her performance here. She has the same deft comic ability as Anna Faris, Charlize Theron, Emma Stone and Regina Hall, who turn their sensuality on a dime and indulge in silly behavior. Lawrence has expert comic timing, especially with Maddie’s cynical applause and insults. Even for a skilled talent like Lawrence, she still impresses with her commitment to wild feats of physical comedy. Nothing she’s done as Mystique in any of the X-Men movies will match Maddie pro-wrestling a group of teenagers in her birthday suit.
“No Hard Feelings” boasts a standout performance from Andrew Barth Feldman, who leaps from the Broadway stage to the silver screen as a delightful foil to Maddie. His Percy is like the antithesis of Gary from Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza; Instead of chasing an old woman, he does everything in his power to maintain abstinence at a slow and steady pace. He’s the perfect foil for Lawrence’s Maddie, garnering plenty of laughs with his shy demeanor that contrasts her confident exterior.