Jennifer Lawrence Plays Easy to Get in ‘No Hard Feelings’ Scene

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At CinemaCon 2023, Sony revealed another look at “No Hard Feelings,” the Gene Stupnitsky-directed romp starring Jennifer Lawrence as a down-on-her-luck Uber driver who takes a gig to “date” a socially awkward high schooler to bring the 19-year-old out of his shell before college. It’s an old-school, R-rated star+concept comedy, something that was in short supply even before COVID sent many such titles to streaming platforms.

The footage features the initial meeting between Lawrence and Andrew Barth Feldman. It’s the full sequence heavily featured in the first trailer, whereby Lawrence attempts to “pick up” the kid at the animal shelter where he volunteers. There’s a dog at the shelter who is apparently addicted to cocaine and who barks furiously when the word “cocaine” is uttered.

We get a slew of not-so-subtle entendres to which the kid has no idea how to react. Again, as seen in the trailer, he is whisked away early into her scary-looking van. The kid eventually realizes that he’s not being taken to his house and eventually pepper-sprays our heroine on the presumption that he’s being kidnapped.

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Even while her biggest movies were franchise flicks like “X-Men: Days of Future Past” or “The Hunger Games,” Jennifer Lawrence may have been a butts-in-seats star. She was absolutely an added value element in “Silver Linings Playbook” and “American Hustle,” and films with little to sell except her like “Joy” and “Red Sparrow” pulled respectable grosses with $101 million and $159 million.

Both films cost too much, at $60 million and $69 million respectively, but there aren’t very many male movie stars who could parlay R-rated, all-by-themselves star vehicles into such global grosses. And “Passengers” did crack $300 million worldwide in 2016, so the only question is why nobody doubts that Chris Pratt is a bankable draw, which he is, even while Lawrence has been on the defensive ever since.

The film is one of a handful of high-profile R-rated comedies opening this summer, alongside Universal’s “Strays” and Lionsgate’s “Joy Ride,” in what all parties hope will mark a return by audiences who had been avoiding such films in theaters before the pandemic further pushed such offerings off theater screens. By virtue of star power and media-friendly elements, “No Hard Feelings” is arguably the biggest or most prominent of the bunch.

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News of Lionsgate making “Good Fortune” and Sony attaching itself to the zombie comedy “Hell Naw” seems to imply a desire on the part of distributors to get audiences back in the habit of seeking out big-screen laughs even when unattached to franchises or IP.

“No Hard Feelings” will open on June 23, which will mark 12 years to the weekend that Cameron Diaz’s “Bad Teacher” debuted with $31 million right alongside Pixar’s “Cars 2.” Even as recently as 2019, Gene Stupinitsky’s star-free, R-rated, concept-driven “Good Boys” earned $111 million on a $20 million budget. The hope is that the success of “Good Boys,” rather than the failure of “Long Shot,” is the rule rather than the exception.

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