No Hard Feelings

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Sony Pictures;
Comedy;
Box Office $50.45 million;
$34.99 DVD, 38.99 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for Sexual content, language, some graphic nudity and brief drug use.
Stars Jennifer Lawrence, Andrew Barth Feldman, Laura Benanti, Natalie Morales, Scott MacArthur, Matthew Broderick.

Jennifer Lawrence joins the ranks of raunch in a coming-of-age comedy that blends the sensibilities of Superbad with a premise not unlike Failure to Launch.

Lawrence plays Maddie, a 32-year-old slacker eking out a meager living in the Hamptons living in a house left to her by her late mother. Falling behind on her property taxes, her plan to save the house through providing ride shares is thwarted when her car is repossessed.

In desperate need of supplemental income, she stumbles upon an ad from a pair of helicopter parents who will give one of their used cars to a girl to sleep with their recent high school graduate son to bring him out of his shell before he leaves for college. The parents (Laura Benanti and Matthew Broderick) were seeking someone more in their son’s age range, but Maddie convinces them her relative maturity will bring the desired results.

Maddie then sets out to seduce Percy (Andrew Barth Feldman), whose awkward demeanor makes him wary of her at first, but he’s quickly ensnared by her aggressive sexual advances. Her plans hit a snag, however, when he seemingly falls in love decides to abandon college to stay with her.

The story was supposedly based on a real Craigslist ad discovered by the filmmakers, who found Lawrence was more than willing to partake in the risqué nature of the humor. The performances are solid and the script offers some good laughs, but the film misses an opportunity for a truly madcap scenario suggested about halfway through when Percy is invited to a party by a girl he went to school with who also seems to want to sleep with him. As Maddie’s deal with the parents is contingent upon Percy not dating anyone “the natural way,” she has to crash the party to put a stop with it, leading to all sorts of “older people at a kids party” jokes. But it also raises the question of what if Maddie wasn’t the only one the parents hired, thus making the unsuspecting Percy the prime target in a Hamptons battleground of young women eager to jump his bones.  

Thrusting Maddie into the middle of such a free-for-all kind of plot might also have been good for a few “Hunger Games” jokes, so it’s understandable if Lawrence would have preferred the film not go in that direction. Instead, the filmmakers chose an ending that leans more toward the sentimental.

Home video extras include an amusing three-and-a-half-minute gag reel, plus two behind-the-scenes featurettes. The six minute “A Little Wrong: Making No Hard Feelings” covers the production in general, while the seven-minute “A Motley Crew: Meet the Characters” focuses on the performances of the main actors.

Shout! Studios Sets Digital Release Dates for ‘Language Lessons’

Shout! Studios has announced the Oct. 26 release of Language Lessons, a collaboration between Natalie Morales (Dead to Me, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse) and Mark Duplass (“The Morning Show,” Bombshell).

The film will be available through digital retailers and video-on-demand (VOD) and  can be pre-ordered now on iTunes.

Language Lessons begins with a man named Adam (Duplass), who is surprised by his husband with weekly Spanish lessons. Unsure about where or how the lessons will fit into his already structured life, he faces tragedy and his Spanish teacher, Cariño (Morales), becomes the lifeline he didn’t know he needed. Adam develops an unexpected and complicated emotional bond with Cariño that may or may not be a result of a traumatic moment they shared.

The film is the winner of the 2021 SXSW Narrative Spotlight Audience Award and the 2021 Provincetown Best Narrative Film Audience Award. IndieWire critic Katie Erbland praised Morales’ work: “Morales’ winning Language Lessons offers one of the best uses of the format yet, a ‘Zoom film’ that utilizes its constraints to craft an intimate, expressive two-hander, no fatigue in sight.”

Shout! Studios Wins Distribution Rights to ‘Language Lessons’

Shout! Studios, the multi-platform distribution and production arm of Shout! Factory, April 6 announced it has acquired North American rights to the drama Language Lessons from Duplass Brothers Productions.

Starring and written by Mark Duplass and Natalie Morales, Language Lessons, a platonic love story, marks the feature directorial debut of Morales and was produced by Mel Eslyn. The film premiered at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival and won the Audience Award at the SXSW Film Festival.

Duplass plays Adam, whose husband surprises him with a gift of a year’s worth of weekly Spanish lessons. But when tragedy strikes, his teacher, Cariño (Morales), becomes a lifeline he didn’t know he needed and the two develop an unexpected and complicated emotional bond.

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Shot in secret during the pandemic with a skeleton crew in Los Angeles and Costa Rica, Language Lessons received critical acclaim out of Berlin and SXSW.

Shout! Studios has secured all distribution rights in North America to Language Lessons, including theatrical, digital, video-on-demand, broadcast and home entertainment for cross-platform releases. Shout! Studios plans a strategic launch of this movie across all major entertainment platforms in North America, beginning with a theatrical launch later this year.

“We’ve been so humbled by the response to our little film, but it was Shout!’s unwavering passion and innovative strategy that won us over in the end,” Duplass said. “Can’t wait for this one!”

The movie deal was negotiated by Jessica Lacy at ICM Partners for Duplass Brothers Productions and Shout’s Jordan Fields, VP of acquisitions, Julie Dansker, head of new content sales, and Steven Katz, VP of business affairs, for Shout! Studios.

Language Lessons is a masterfully acted, sharply crafted, and profoundly entertaining portrait of friendship by Natalie and Mark,” Fields said. “It leaves you hopeful that real human connection can blossom in the uncongenial world of screens.”

“I am thrilled to partner once again with Mark and Mel, iconic storytellers and filmmakers, on this award-winning and very special film,” added Dansker. “The performances from Mark and Natalie are amazing and we are so excited to share Natalie’s incredibly impressive and refreshing directorial debut with audiences.”

A production of Duplass Brothers Productions, Language Lessons was executive produced by Natalie Morales, Mark Duplass and Jay Duplass. The film features original music by Gaby Moreno.

Comedy ‘Happily’ Coming to DVD May 25 From Paramount

The Saban Films comedy Happily, starring Joel McHale and Kerry Bishé, will come out on DVD May 25 from Paramount Home Entertainment.

In the film, a happily married couple (McHale and Bishé) discover their friends are resentful of their lustful relationship. When a visit from a mysterious stranger leads to a dead body, they begin to question the loyalty of their so-called friends.

Directed by BenDavid Grabinsk, the film also stars Stephen Root, Paul Scheer, Breckin Meyer, Natalie Zea and Natalie Morales.

The film is available now in select theaters, on digital and on demand.

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