Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Andrew Barth Feldman, Matthew Broderick, Natalie Morales
Director: Gene Stupnitsky
Release Date: June 21, 2023
Maddie (Lawrence) thinks she’s found the answer to her financial troubles when she discovers an intriguing job listing: wealthy helicopter parents looking for someone to “date” their introverted 19-year-old son, Percy, and bring him out of his shell before he leaves for college. But awkward Percy (Andrew Barth Feldman) proves to be more of a challenge than she expected, and time is running out. She has one summer to make him a man or lose it all.
I went into this press screening with high hopes for this movie; I thought it could have been fantastic with the concept leaning towards an 80s raunchy sex comedy vibe. I was excited to see Jennifer Lawrence in a comedy role, something that she does not get to do very often. She is more known for her serious portrayals, with her more recent stint in Don’t Look Up (2021), where she had the faith of humanity in her hands. The film starts promisingly with an original idea that is too predictable and falls apart quickly. There is a moment in this movie where she has her rollerblades on and attempts to walk up steps, which doesn’t land that laughable attempt and instead becomes painfully awkward to watch, raising the idea of logic. There are too many scenes that attempt to be funny and ludicrous that the humour seems forced and not organic. Andrew Barth Feldman, who plays Percy, shows no charm throughout his screen time; his acting comes across as quite stiff, with little or no comedic appeal at certain times. His character was very annoying, and the scenes where he shared with Jennifer Lawerence were not believable and bland.
I think I chuckled once or twice for the whole 1 hour and 43 minutes of this movie, probably more than the lack of laughter I didn’t hear at the screening. The film produces ideal scenarios that, on paper, might work, but the end product does not deliver. A part of the movie On a Beach involves a bizarre nude fight scene, which again attempts to be funny, but instead, it makes you feel weird and uncomfortable, with questionable CGI used that is distracting. This, again, is another example of the lack of imagination needed to make the audience laugh. Unfortunately, it is widespread, leaving me exhausted and frustrated at the endless missed opportunities. The use of familiar settings, such as a person clinging to the bonnet of a fast-moving car, has been seen before and doesn’t reach the bar of originality. There was undoubtedly an element of fun intended behind the scenes between the creative team and the actors, which included someone getting peppered sprayed along with police chases and throat punches that demanded and craved laughter but instead left me not amused. That is the current theme throughout the movie; it leaves you wondering about the necessity of the choices and decisions made.
The movie doesn’t know what it is at times; the failed comedic attempts are recycled and then flipped onto us in the form of a romantic, I messed up, get the boy back nonsense garbage that we have seen in countless films. There are two different backstories with our main characters, which are supposed to make you feel more invested and connected to the storyline that tries to strike that emotional punch with its audience that quickly deflates. Their interactions with each other don’t work and display very little chemistry, and are not very convincing. Lawrence pushes too hard to produce that funny impression almost entirely when she is on screen, and it gets old and tiring quickly. Some sweet moments in this movie, which touch on friendship and self-development, make you smile but not laugh. I have a significant issue with a trailer that teases you into believing you will get a non-stop laugh-out movie when it is the opposite. In its conclusion, it deceives you and attempts to be something that becomes predictable and outdated. It had the potential to be hilarious but focused more on becoming a soppy rom-com that doesn’t work and becomes repetitive.