Jennifer Lawrence Says Mean Comedy Isn’t Funny

But jokes can still be offensive! Embrace the duality
Jennifer Lawrence Says Mean Comedy Isn’t Funny

Public service announcement: You should know going into No Hard Feelings, Jennifer Lawrence’s new R-rated comedy, that you might be outraged. Actually, odds are that’s exactly what will happen. “Everybody in some sense will be offended by this film,” she told Sky News. “You're welcome.” 

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"I think it's time for just a good old-fashioned laugh," she says, something that Matthew Broderick’s hair in the trailer absolutely delivers. It’s been a difficult time for comedies to break through at the box office after Covid (and even before) — while funny movies regularly achieved blockbuster status in the 2000s, there hasn’t been a $100 million comedy released in theaters since 2017’s Girls Trip. Maybe it’s time to start poking people again?

Some of the failures of big-screen comedy is on audiences, who might need to learn how to take a joke again. "There was and is like a big overcorrect because we realized there were so many things that we were joking about that we shouldn't be,” says No Hard Feelings costar Andrew Barth Feldman, who plays Lawrence’s geeky target of seduction. “I think this movie does a really good job of continuing to push limits while still engaging with the conversation that the things that these people are doing are wrong, and not a good idea."

The key to making offensive comedy in 2023? "Something we learned from the old-time comedies is mean comedy is not really funny, you know, making somebody feel bad about themselves," says Lawrence. “But the way that we did it is fine, we figured it out."

Besides not being mean, it helped have an old head writer of The Office around to punch up jokes. For every scene, director Gene Stupnitsky would “give me an alt that would knock the wind out of me,” Lawrence told Cameron Diaz in Interview. “I was in the edit last week, and it’s impossible to choose. He’s a fountain of hilarity.”

You can tell Lawrence wants this one to be a hit, if only because she wants to do more comedies. “There are definitely times where you get home and you’re like, ‘What a good day of work. That went well,'” she says. “But it adds a whole different layer of joy when the accomplishment is something that makes you belly laugh.”

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