Jennifer Lawrence’s No Hard Feelings (2023) is definitely off-brand for her. This raunchy teenage sex comedy only has her star power. Lawrence plays a terribly flawed human being struggling with unconfronted trauma from the past. The film isn’t a bug-budget brawler with conventional cinematic quality but certainly holds up to modern standards of genuine filmmaking. No Hard Feelings is a little cheesy and morally questionable: would you be alright with the gender roles reversed? How about the double standards now?

Nevertheless, it still is an enjoyable film. Lawrence does an amazing job holding it up all by herself. Furthermore, she is aided by a great cast that helps manage the burden. Particularly, there’s the breakout performance from Andrew Barth Feldman, who gives a great account of his comedic talent. He reminded me instantly of Jason Biggs in American Pie, only younger and more in tune with today’s times. Having someone as experienced as Lawrence helped his performance, but she still owned all the scenes they shared. In this ending explainer, we break down No Hard Feeling’s Plot Summary and also give our take on what the film’s ending truly meant.

No Hard Feelings (2023) Movie Synopsis & Plot Summary:

Maddie Barker (Lawrence) lives in Montauk, just at the precipice of New York, in her mother’s house. The movie begins with one of her former boyfriends, Gary, impounding her car from the house. Even though her mother left her the house, Maddie has consistently defaulted in paying property taxes. She is an Uber driver-cum-bartender, and the absence of a car does a lot of damage to her ability to pay off the remaining taxes. Her friends at the bar, Jim and Sara, show her an advertisement on Craigslist.

A wealthy, older couple has put out an ad asking prospective takers to “bring their son out of his shell.” Allison and Laird’s son, Percy, will be starting college soon. But he is too introverted and self-absorbed to interact with his surroundings properly. His parents think this would hinder his college experience, and he might be left without any support living a life on his own. They agree to give Maddie their old Buick in return for having intercourse with Percy and ridding him of his social anxiety.

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What makes Maddie change her strategy to woo Percy?

Maddie begins the ploy by posing as a buyer at a dog shelter, where Percy volunteers. Initially, her overt sexual energy makes him think that Maddie is kidnapping him. But soon enough, he comes to terms with the idea of Maddie becoming his girlfriend. He does not suspect any foul play despite Maddie’s purposeful sexuality. Percy confesses he does not want to have sex with just anybody. He wants his first time to be with someone whom he knows and has a connection with. This forces Maddie to rethink her strategy and come up with a new one.

Their new relationship begins on a frenetic note with the beach incident, where Maddie drives a naked Percy on the bonnet of her borrowed van through an oncoming train and a police patrol car in pursuit. The two end up at her house, where she applies ointment on Percy’s rashes. This is where they really begin to bond in a genuine way. Maddie reveals that her father left his family to start a new one. Maddie and her mother were left to fend for themselves, and even though they tried to mend ways, her father did not want anything to do with them.

How is Percy and Maddie’s “human condition” connected?

Percy opens up about his embarrassing incident at school. On a sleepover, a few of his friends outed Percy as sleeping with his parents in the same bed (he was in middle school at the time). This made Percy very conscious of himself, and went into his shell. Maddie found many similarities in their situations and experiences. She later expresses to Sarah and Jim that Percy is a nice person, and they are becoming good friends.

Percy plans a surprise date for Maddie, where he takes her to dinner in a limo. This was because Maddie had previously mentioned that she had never been to a prom in high school. Well, Percy hadn’t gone either, and he decided this was the perfect time to realize it for the both of them. He hires a limo for the night, dresses up fancily, and even puts a corsage on Maddie’s arm. At the restaurant, the two genuinely seem to be enjoying each other’s company.

No Hard Feelings 2023 Movie Ending Explained
Jennifer Lawrence in No Hard Feelings (2023)

But Percy takes it to the next level when Maddie pushes him to perform Darryl Hall and John Oates’ on the piano. Percy takes the room by storm with his pristine voice and playing skills. Maddie is surprised by his confidence and how good he is! When Nancy, one of Percy’s fellow high schoolers and future college mates at Princeton, comes over, Maddie gets jealous. She invites both of them to a party where he could mix up with fellow students who are going to Princeton.

No Hard Feelings (2023) Movie Ending Explained:

The party turns out to be a pivotal moment in the film. Percy and Maddie had decided not to go to the party before. But when the latter did not reciprocate the former’s intention to maintain a long-distance relationship when they were away, Percy decided to go anyway. Maddie faces a tough time navigating the empowered Gen Z kids at the party. She ultimately creates a huge scene when she discovers that Percy and Nancy are “sharing a room.” She interrupts their lovemaking and is kicked out with Percy by the owners.

How does Percy learn the truth about his parents’ plan?

A drunk Percy tries to have sex with Maddie, but she turns him down in good faith. To the absolute shock of Allison and Laird, Percy announces to them that he will not be going to college. He has made the decision because this would mean his relationship with Maddie would end. The relationship is clearly having an impact on Percy, who volunteers to drive himself for the day, something he was previously afraid to do.

The parents call Maddie and offer her the Buick that day if she convinces Percy to go to college. Percy overhears this call using Bluetooth in the car and is heartbroken. He invites Maddie for lunch and is rude to her throughout. Percy even forces her to have intercourse in his room but “finishes” even before he can begin on her thighs. He also ridicules her for taking advantage of him, but Maddie tries to explain her side.

Why do Maddie and Percy mend their relationship?

As revenge, Percy destroys the Buick from all sides, except the engine, which still seems to work. Maddie begins her arduous journey to pay the overdue taxes and completes her task after a lot of hard work. She is no longer in contact with Percy but takes heed of his suggestion to move on from her father’s betrayal and start a new life somewhere else. She decides to act on it and sells the house to Sarah and Jim at a lower rate. The couple had previously announced that they would be moving to Florida, but to keep them here, Maddie makes this decision.

Maddie feels sorry for how she treated Percy and decides to apologize to him. She tries to confront him at the Princeton mix, but Percy is unwilling to talk to her. The beach incident is eventually repeated with a role reversal. Percy is the one driving the car, and Maddie is on the bonnet. The two eventually reconnect on the beach and promise to remain friends. Percy admits he was heartbroken, and Maddie accepts her mistake. In the film’s final scene, we see Maddie driving Percy to college in the same Buick and that she has also adopted Milo, a black German Shepherd, from the shelter as her new companion.

What is No Hard Feelings really about?

No Hard Feelings is ironically all about “feelings.” Both our protagonists struggled with unresolved issues that demanded them to be honest with themselves and change. In a way, they needed each other to push each other and spring into new directions in life. While Maddie was stuck in the past, Percy was stuck because of his fear of the future. He was scared of walking into a new world all alone without any emotional support system. Maddie wasn’t prepared to let her father’s betrayal go and was stuck in her life, waiting for him to come back.

Both Maddie and Percy were emotionally stunted but in different phases of life. No Hard Feelings showcased a genuine cross-age friendship that is rare to find on the screen. While inspirations from American Pie were visible, the film has its own commentary on a “teen’s wildest fantasy.” It also allows Lawrence’s character to amount to something and make its thematic core richer.

High On Films in collaboration with Avanté

Read More: 20 Best Comedy Movies of 2022


No Hard Feelings (2023) Movie Links: IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Wikipedia
The Cast of No Hard Feelings (2023) Movie: Jennifer Lawrence, Andrew Barth Feldman, Laura Benanti, Natalie Morales, Matthew Broderick
No Hard Feelings (2023) Movie Genre: Comedy, Runtime: 1h 43m
Where to watch No Hard Feelings

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