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The Return of Raunchy Comedies

No Hard Feelings (Sony Pictures)

Comedy thrived on the big screen, especially in the 90s to around 2010. But, in recent years, we've experienced fewer of these laughs in theaters and more from the comfort of our homes. Only a few films in this genre have succeeded in holding theatrical releases in recent years, such as Blockers (2018) and Booksmart (2019). And yet, many studios have opted to continue to release these types of films directly to streaming services so that they don't have to combat the movie franchises and blockbusters that dominate the big screen today. However, this summer has brought some welcome surprises with the grand return of raunchy comedies to cinemas.

No Hard Feelings was released on June 23, 2023, marking Jennifer Lawrence's first appearance on the big screen since 2019's Dark Pheonix. Alongside Lawerence is Andrew Barth Feldman, known for his role as Evan in Broadway's Dear Evan Hansen and his brief appearance in the television show High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. This film focuses on a "30-something-year-old" named Maddie (Jennifer Lawrence) and a 19-year-old loner whose parents want him to date anyone. They go so far as to post a Craigslist ad, requesting someone to date their son, Percy (Andrew Barth Feldman), and, in return, offer up a car as payment. Coincidentally, Maddie's car had just gotten impounded, and, as an Uber driver, she desperately needed a new one. An unexpected but welcome delight, this movie showcases the rarely-seen comedic talents of Jennifer Lawrence. It shines a light on the powerhouse, Andrew Barth Feldman, in a hilarious manner. This film seems to be one of the many that are "testing out" audiences' reactions to hardcore comedy today. With so much having changed in the last decade, certain jokes can now appear outdated, offensive, and just downright unfunny (and rightfully so). No Hard Feelings dips its toe in the water and does it spectacularly, boasting racy jokes and humorous plot points while somehow implementing a bit of heart. It is a surefire sign that these types of movies are gradually returning to theaters.

Joy Ride (Lionsgate)

Another film that is making audiences roar with laughter once again is the explicit and comical Joy Ride. Released on July 7, 2023, this movie features many talented Asian-American actors. Sherry Cola, known for her work on Good Trouble, stars as Lolo, and Ashley Park (best known as Mindy on Emily in Paris), who plays Audrey. Early in the movie, a young Lolo befriends Audrey, an adopted Chinese girl. The duo encounters a racist white kid on the playground and decides not to put up with his behavior. Lolo punches him in the face after dropping a lovely F-bomb, solidifying her and Audrey's friendship. This scene sets the mood for the movie and gives viewers a good idea of how much they will be cracking up the entire time. As years go by, the two remain best friends despite being polar opposites, Audrey, a lawyer, and Lolo, a struggling artist. When Audrey needs to go on a business trip to Beijing, she accompanies Lolo as her translator. The duo turns into a trio when Lolo invites Deadeye (Sabrina Wu), her cousin, to tag along. Played by Sabrina Wu, Deadeye is their first on-screen appearance, having only previously been a writer for the Disney+ show Doogie Kameāloha, M.D. As the story progresses, Audrey's old college friend, Kat (Stephanie Hsu), joins the group. Stephanie Hsu, best known for her Oscar-nominated role in Everything Everywhere All At Once, shows off her comedic chops in this hysterical movie. The journey to Beijing quickly goes south, and the group of friends gets tangled in a slew of messes. The film only gets wilder from there and, quite honestly, leaves the audience in shambles in the absolute best way possible. Joy Ride does an incredible job at keeping viewers hooked from start to finish while also having a story that resonates with many. It is, yet again, a movie that provides strong evidence that wide releases of raunchy comedies are coming back into style.

Bottoms (ORION Pictures Inc)

An upcoming film that I'd like to mention is Bottoms, a high-school comedy that looks to be incredibly bizarre, hilarious, and queer. Releasing on August 25, 2023, the movie stars Rachel Sennott as PJ, best known as Alice in Bodies, Bodies, Bodies, and Ayo Edebiri as Josie, best known for her role as Sydney in The Bear. The two teens decide that starting a fight club for girls is a definite way to lose their virginities to the hottest girls in school- the cheerleaders. When the plan works, the two best friends are ecstatic… Until it all goes wrong, of course. So far, the audience reviews for this film are incredibly positive, with all of them preaching how hysterical, bawdy, and wacky the story is.

If none of these appeal to you, luckily, there are many more films in this genre (or one similar to it- horror comedy, comedy/road, etc.) that have already come out this year or are set to come out later this year. If you enjoy these movies, the best way to keep them in theaters rather than having them premiere on streaming services at home is to see them (if it is within your means)! 2023 seems to be the start of a new era for raunchy comedies. Laughing with others in theaters has genuinely been missed- here's to hoping it sticks around!

Written by Ashley Lavalle

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