By Lynn Venhaus
The crude and cringy comedy “No Hard Feelings” is a hot mess. If trying to be a throwback to ‘80s sex comedies, but for modern audiences twisted with a gender-reversed protagonist, it’s a painful reminder that arrested development isn’t always a gut buster.

A down-on-her-luck local, Maddie (Jennifer Lawrence) has long-festering daddy issues and a chip on her shoulder the size of the Rock of Gibraltar. She ekes out a living by driving the ‘haves’ around and bartending, barely containing her contempt for the seasonal residents who summer in Montauk, her homestead, on Long Island. With all the new money’d elite in town, she can’t afford her property taxes, thus the bind she’s in, calling for desperate measures.

Maddie answers a Craigslist ad to resolve her financial troubles. Wealthy helicopter parents Laird and Allison (Matthew Broderick and Laura Benanti) want to hire someone to ‘date’ their introverted 19-year-old son Percy (Andrew Barth Feldman) before he begins his freshman year at Princeton. Their promise of a car is appealing, for her vehicle was recently repossessed and she’s an Uber driver. But awkward Percy is more of a challenge than she expected.

Lawrence goes full frontal and full throttle as a combative, mean-spirited, deceitful and stuck-in-a-rut 32-year-old hedonist. She’s a commitment-phobe and harbors lots of resentments.

That’s right, “America’s sweetheart.” It’s not a good look for the Oscar winner, although she’s adept at physical comedy. With so few redeeming qualities, Maddie is hard to like, and her actions, for the most part, made me feel increasingly uncomfortable.

Not that you must be likable to carry a film, but sheesh, co-writers Gene Stupnitsky, who directed with a heavy hand, and John Phillips go for the cheap laugh every time. And the age difference is icky, no matter if it’s not condoned nor a transaction.

Mocking helicopter parents, however, is fertile comedic ground, and while Broderick and Benanti are known for their comic flair, they are underused as the couple who have smothered their kid in a detrimental way. And distraught, turn to Craigslist (!?!)  and offer a Buick Regal to an older woman who will ‘make’ their introverted son a man before he goes off to the Ivy League.

As played winningly by Andrew Barth Feldman, Percy is not as clueless as everyone thinks, and he becomes more engaging and sympathetic as the flimsy plot starts fraying. In fact, the saving grace is that he and Lawrence develop a sweet chemistry after she stops aggressively throwing herself at him.

With jerky tonal shifts to make you feel as though you’re experiencing repeated whiplash, the movie veers off course in several directions that don’t make very much sense – not that we expect this format to be remotely plausible.

Much has been made about its R-rated double entendres, but filmmakers never figure out what they want this comedy to be – a light-hearted romp, a laugh-out-loud raunchy farce, a spoof of juvenile teen-centered movies, or a “very special episode” with a message about growing up.

This blend of familiar plot threads borrowing from “Risky Business,” “Superbad” and “The Graduate” has some funny physical comedy, but mostly, the harder Maddie tries to hook up with the virginal teen, the more uneasy it feels. Are we making fun of him because he is so socially awkward, or are we laughing at her because she is a trainwreck? Either way, not encouraging.

Some of the broad physical comedy lands, but mostly, they lob all sorts of goofiness to see what sticks. And Kyle Mooney is wasted as a former nanny who’s become friends with the shy kid.

Feldman’s ease at conveying genuine emotion is a plus. He’s reminiscent of an early Michael Cera and a pleasant surprise in his first major movie role following a streaming piece on Netflix, “A Tourist’s Guide to Love.”

It’s the kind of film breakthrough that bodes well for the future. In real life, Feldman’s meteoric rise in musical theater is like a movie plot – winner of the 2018 Jimmy Award, aka National High School Musical Theatre Award, he was noticed by a producer of “Dear Evan Hansen,” and wound up as a Broadway replacement in the title role.

While the film is more of a ‘bait-and-switch’ than a rowdy low-brow comedy, its sweet and sentimental moments are when it engages in a sincere way. After 1 hour, 43 minutes of scattershot cinema, everything’s tied up neatly and the future’s so bright, they’ll have to wear shades.

That friendship movie, without the careening cars, vomit scenes, teen hijinks, house parties and one-nightstands, would have been worth the time.

“No Hard Feelings” is a 2023 comedy directed by Gene Stupnitsky and starring Jennifer Lawrence, Andrew Barth Feldman, Laura Benanti, and Matthew Broderick Rated: R for sexual content, language, some graphic nudity, and brief drug use, its runtime is 1 hour, 43-minutes. It opened in theaters June 23. Lynn’s Grade: C-.

The Critics Choice Association Women’s Committee is pleased to announce the third round of recipients of the newly launched Seal of Female Empowerment in Entertainment. Called the “SOFEE,” the Seal recognizes outstanding new films and television series that illuminate the female experience and perspective through authentically told female-driven stories.

The newest titles earning the SOFEE are:
Feature Film: “Causeway” (A24 and Apple TV+)
Feature Film: “She Said” (Universal)
Documentary: “Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me” (Apple TV+)

Starring and produced by Jennifer Lawrence, “Causeway” is an intimate portrait of a soldier struggling to adjust to her life after returning home to New Orleans.

“It’s a tremendous honor for the film to receive this recognition from the Critics Choice Association’s Women’s Committee,” said “Causeway” director Lila Neugebauer. “I’m sending enduring gratitude to the remarkable team who worked tenaciously to bring this movie to fruition.”

“She Said” recounts the tenacity of New York Times reporters Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor as they expose decades of institutional sexual harassment and assault in Hollywood, and the system built around protecting abusers. Their dedicated reporting led to the #MeToo movement and created meaningful change in how women are treated in and outside the workplace. “She Said” is led by an incredible group of female filmmakers in front of and behind the camera, including director Maria Schrader and screenwriter Rebecca Lenkiewicz, and is based on The New York Times investigation by Jodi Kantor, Megan Twohey and Rebecca Corbett and The New York Times bestseller, She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey. The film is produced by Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner for Plan B Entertainment and is executive produced by Brad Pitt and Lila Yacoub and by Megan Ellison and Sue Naegle for Annapurna Pictures.

‘“She Said” is more than a film, it’s a public record. Filmed so close to the actual events, it’s a visual synopsis that can be revisited in 100 years to show audiences how women ‘jumped together’ to stop a predator, and a predatory system,” said Tara McNamara, Chair of the CCA Women’s Committee. “The drama is exceptional for featuring fully realized female characters who reflect expressions of gender that are rarely seen in film.”

Both “She Said” and “Causeway” received a perfect score in the numerical formula that is used to determine if new titles, which are nominated by CCA Women’s Committee members, are eligible for a SOFEE. Qualifying projects will have a prominent female character arc, give female characters at least equal screen time to male characters, have female leaders behind the scenes, and pass elements highlighted in the Bechdel test. To be considered, new film and television releases must possess an artistic and storytelling value and exceptionality, and score at least 7 out of a possible 10 points in the SOFEE rubric, which can be found at There are no limits or quotas governing the number of SOFEE seals the CCA may grant.

In the documentary category, “Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me” follows the singer-actress for six years as she opens up to reveal her struggles with anxiety, depression, Lupus, and bipolar disorder. Through her bravery in sharing her diagnoses, and as one of the first internationally known public figures to do so in this way, Gomez finds purpose in her effort to destigmatize mental illness and demonstrates to viewers that those struggling with their mental health are not alone. Directed and co-written by Alek Keshishian, the film clearly expresses Gomez’s voice and point-of-view.

“Our desire is that female writers and directors are given more opportunities to tell women’s stories, however, at this moment, more than 80 percent of working directors are men,” said McNamara. “‘Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me’ is a fantastic example of male filmmakers collaborating with a female subject to tell her unique experience with honesty and accuracy.”

The Seal of Female Empowerment in Entertainment is issued by the CCA Women’s Committee. Members include Tara McNamara (Chair), Hillary Atkin, Semira Ben-Amor, Christina Birro, Lauren Bradshaw, TJ Callahan, Natasha Gargiulo, Toni Gonzales, Teri Hart, Laura Hurley, Susan Kamyab, Louisa Moore, Gayl Murphy, Mary Murphy, Patricia Puentes, Christina Radish, Amanda Salas, Rachel Smith, Sammi Turano, and Lynn Venhaus, as well as CCA board member Paulette Cohn.

About the Critics Choice Association (CCA)
The Critics Choice Association is the largest critics organization in the United States and Canada, representing more than 580 media critics and entertainment journalists. It was established in 2019 with the formal merger of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association, recognizing the intersection between film, television, and streaming content. For more information, visit: