There once was a time when Jennifer Lawrence was everywhere. From winning our hearts in Silver Linings: Playbook to her subsequent roles in The Hunger Games and X-Men franchises, the actress was truly taking Hollywood by storm.
After a brief hiatus from cinema following 2015’s disgusting celebrity nudes leak, and a few poorly received films, Lawrence has since been building back her presence through streamer features like Don’t Look Up. We’re happy to finally see her back on the big screen, but was an Uber driver giving off grooming vibes really the best role for the 32-year-old to pick up?
The new film, No Hard Feelings, from director Gene Stupnitsky, sees an Uber driver (played by Jennifer Lawrence) seeking a new car after hers is repossessed. Her solution? A Craigslist ad from so-called “helicopter parents,” wanting their son to get laid before heading off to college, offering a new car to anyone who can date and successfully seduce their introverted nerdy son. A 19-year-old Lawrence’s character describes as “unf*ckable” in the movie’s recently released trailer.
While it may seem humorous on the surface, the film’s debut trailer was filled with red flags. Mainly in that the son has been cast to look deliberately youthful and young. You would not assume that he is 19 on a first glance, he’s giving the appearance of a 17-year-old at best. Deliberately playing with audience expectations like that might make for some easy laughs, but it fails to acknowledge the real world grooming that the casting implies.
We had hoped that maybe Lawrence, a self proclaimed feminist, would steer away from a role that appears to promote grooming too. Especially given her stellar and thoughtful performance in her independently produced 2022 hit Causeway, which deals with heavy themes of war-related injury and the trauma surrounding veteran reintegration. It seemed like after a long stint as the X-Men’s Mystique, the actress was aiming for more fulfilling roles. Sadly not the case.
It’s not just us either, as countless netizens took to Twitter to point out the overall weirdness of the flick. One user stated pointedly: “It’s giving grooming.”
Another user highlighted that this just isn’t the “feel good hit it would have been a few years ago.” The film seems to be filled with sexual innuendo, awkward situations that borderline cross the line, and oddly over-the-top slapstick.
For a film like this to come out of Hollywood, at a time when there is still such a strong conversation about the industry’s problem with sexual assault, really highlights the callousness of showbiz. At worst, No Hard Feelings seems like it promotes and makes light of grooming, at best, it’s just another exploitative movie. Neither of these options spark much hope for the future of the entertainment industry.