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Jennifer Lawrence comedy is funny and sweet

I don’t want to overdo “No Hard Feelings.” I don’t want to sell cheap either.

It’s fun and creates lots of laughs, some cheap, some clever. It’s nice to see this Jennifer Lawrence direct a comedy with a competent leading actor, in this case Andrew Barth FeldmanHe’s one of a handful of Broadway actors seen here. Casting turns material into floats that can be cut in a minute if in the wrong hands. This might seem to state the obvious, but after the recent glut of indifferent non-superhero sequels, I’ll take a modest-scale, fairly humane, R-rated comedy that lets Lawrence be funny.

She plays Maddie, the tragicomic case of an Uber driver who doesn’t have a car and works as a bartender on the side. It is summer in Long Island, New York, where Maddie has lived her entire life. He’s in his early 30s and desperately needs money to avoid foreclosure on the modest home he inherited from his late mother in beautiful, beachy, frustratingly expensive Montauk.

Goal! Really! Maddie responds to a Craigslist ad posted by a pair of loving, uptight helicopter parents (Matthew Broderick And Laura Benanti, is wonderfully present in their interactions). They are concerned about their son, Percy (Feldman), a socially anxious, temperamentally isolated 19-year-old Princeton-bound son. He needs a summer to remember, or at least one that will launch him into his college years with less fear. Parents are looking for a nice woman in her early 20s to “date” him. Maddie is a decade older than that, but close enough.

The sign is that Percy isn’t supposed to find out about this plan even as it’s being revealed. This is thought to be a naturally occurring phenomenon. Maddie, who will get a car from the deal, visits Percy at the animal shelter where he works with dogs. She goes in for a seductive kill, all legs, purring comes and husky insinuations. When they meet, Percy is holding a dachshund; Feldman has a great way of looking like a bloodhound; He has wide eyes and narrow experience.

Directed by Gene Stupnitsky She co-wrote “No Hard Feelings” with John Phillips, and while the script could have used another side character or two (Natalie Morales and Scott MacArthur would have amusingly stirred things up as Maddie’s friends and confidants), the story is essentially a two-character sex comedy. side of sweetness. Percy’s fragile emotional state and history of being bullied are taken seriously enough to provide the film with some glue. The pandemic is not mentioned, but with so many Percys trying to find their way over the last few years, it goes without saying.

Maddie’s own story, based on a father she never knew, bolsters the sincerity that skulks through “No Hard Feelings,” but as the trailer suggests, we’re more in a world of crude, loud jokes, albeit less malicious than usual. . I think the centerpiece involves a skinny dipping sequence. Maddie forces Percy into this; At this point in the story he may be running out of patience and losing his house And car. Clothes are stolen while in the water; This leads to a bare scene that feels both calculatedly awkward and calculatedly worthy.

Does the story fit together logically? No. Maddie could probably make at least half the money she needs Vrbo-ing her home for the summer. (The script addresses this by having her say she doesn’t like the idea of ​​rich assholes stinking up her house.) There’s at least a hint of a socioeconomic context in the squabble between Montauk towns over customary rights. summer people, just a hint though.

You don’t go to “No Hard Feelings” for a searing indictment of the way we live today; Montauk, whose appeal is now threatened by super-rich gentrification, is no different than so many beautiful, scenic, indefensibly expensive places in America. Anyway. Filmed near but not in Montauk, this easy-going, pleasant comedy works because the stars work and the premise doesn’t strain the – somewhat dated – logic part. Lawrence has fantastic timing and the kind of take-it-or-leave-it confidence that energizes a formulaic comedy. He also knows how to handle the quieter, sadder parts for understated but legitimate stakes. I hate to end this review by quoting a terrible Adam Sandler romantic comedy, but with Lawrence and Feldman at the wheel, “No Hard Feelings” makes it easy to get on with it.

“No Hard Feelings” — 3 stars (out of 4)

MPA rating: R (for sexual content, language, some graphic nudity and brief drug use)

Running time: 1:40

How to watch: Premieres in theaters June 22.

Michael Phillips is a Tribune critic.

mjphillips@chicagotribune.com

excitement @phillipstribune



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