Hard Feelings (2023, Hammerharte Jungs) Movie Review: If you have crossed the threshold of teenage, you know for a fact that you don’t wish to revisit it. Your hormones are cacophonous, your feelings are all over the place, and, to top it all, everyone in your class at school is undergoing a similar change.

Hard Feelings (2023), directed by Granz Henman, is a coming-of-age story about a teenager who is just as confused about the changes taking place in his body as he should be, except his newly bloomed sexual organ can talk. It’s gross, funny, predictable, and educational at the same time. Think of it like a watered-down version of Sex Education (2019 – ) and without the important discussions on female camaraderie, gender, and sexuality.

Like Otis from Sex Education, Charly (played by Tobias Schafer) is a nerdy teenage child who is made fun of at school for being a late bloomer. He is best friends with Paula (played by Cosima Henman), who religiously pick up and drop him at school every day. Charly and Paula are hanging out one night when both of them are suddenly struck by lightning (literal and metaphorical).

The next morning, Charly realizes that he has woken up to a hard-on, a phenomenon he is so unaware of that he has to scramble to the washroom to avoid the intruding eyes of his parents. His hard-on soon makes itself noticeable in public, and, in a turn of events, he soon becomes famous in school. On the other hand, Paula finds herself sexually attracted to Charly and has to deal with her own newly blossomed sexual feelings.

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They end up going to a house party with people from school, make some regrettable decisions and face the consequences soon. Do Charly and Paula end up sleeping together? Unlike a teenage rom-com, it isn’t clear whether the two young protagonists are in love or not, but they sure are sexually attracted to one another.

Nothing – except the sexual organs speaking out loud – in this film is out of the ordinary, not even the sex puns force-fitted into the script. Perhaps Paula, in revealing lingerie while talking to a sales guy in a shop as she attempts to buy sexual wellness products, is a little bit of a stretch, but all of it is in the spirit of good-natured humor.

Hard Feelings (2023) Movie Review
A still from Hard Feelings (2023) streaming on Netflix

Every coming-of-age film starter pack features house parties, popular but snarky school kids, and the influence of social media on teens. The protagonists’ realization that sexual desires are natural and that human bodies, a site of sensual exploration, are not the only things that make them who they are, is done well, even if there are stupid plot complications that can make adults like me eye-roll in disgust.

The universality of this realization in Hard Feelings (2023) makes it an important addition to the teenage coming-of-age canon. I must digress and tell you that I sincerely wished Henman had brought in some conversation outside of heterosexual desires.

Both Charly and Paula’s sex organs speak in a raunchy language that makes up most of the fun in the film. The organs are horny, constantly talking about sex, and forcing the teens to perceive others around them only through a sexual lens.

It is also such an interesting way to show how, during adolescence, it is the hormones that tend to rule over our actions. Their language almost reminds you of the anthropomorphic sausages in the film Sausage Party (2016). However, the side plot about Charly’s parents suffering from stagnation in marriage is a bit of an overkill.

Hard Feelings (2023) will feel easy and light-hearted on your palette if you are a strong advocate of the British television show Sex Education. This movie tries too hard to get to the point, but I don’t blame it; its target audience is teenagers on Netflix.

I am, however, glad that the film is quick to establish the difference in duration between male and female orgasms. I also wish, growing up, we had access to coming-of-age films that did not sneer at sexual feelings but taught how natural they are in the course of growing into (dys)functional adults.

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Hard Feelings (2023) Links: IMDb
Hard Feelings (2023) Cast: Diana Amft, Au/Ra, Tom Beck
Where to watch Hard Feelings

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