New this week to Netflix is the German coming-of-age teen sex-comedy, Hard Feelings (aka Hammerharte Jungs). The movie – directed by Granz Henman – stars Tobias Schäfer and Cosima Henman, and follows the story of Charly – a teenage lad who discovers his penis can talk to him, following an encounter with lightning.
In the movie, Charly is a high school student who is forever being bullied by his peers. Due to an embarrassing incident when he was younger, Charly has grown up with crushing anxiety and constant confusion, and this has shaped the person he is today.
One night, while outside chatting with his friend Paula, the pair are struck by a bolt of lightning. Although they appear to be OK following the incident, and certainly not in any need for medical attention, the next morning Charly wakes up to a startling discovery – his penis appears to have a voice!
Although the voice is something which only Charly can hear, it becomes vocal at the most inappropriate moments. This leads to further embarrassment for Charly, and the sense that he is now being led by his talkative tackle, as he attempts to go about his life.
Isn’t it funny? You wait around for a talking penis movie for ages (said NO ONE), and then two come around in the same year!
The first was the low-budget British comedy, Jack, which popped up on digital download back in January. The movie focused on a university student who can hear the inner thoughts of his perky pecker, and was about as funny as having your teeth removed by a drunk orthodontist.
This second movie, Hard Feelings, which dropped onto Netflix yesterday, has a slightly higher budget than Jack and certainly a better grasp of its story and themes, but it is still quite an unhappy experience. Hard Feelings is far too long for its own good, the central concept runs out of steam pretty quickly, and it’s simply not fun to watch.
The movie isn’t dreadful, and out of the two phallus films it is mildly better than its predecessor, but it’s still not something to show off either. Hard Feelings has all the parts, and occasionally knows how to use them, but it’s all a little disappointing in the execution.
To be fair to Hard Feelings, the movie does have something to say about sexual awakenings, as well as the impact of hormones on adolescents, and at times the film’s themes are handled rather well. Hard Feelings also has its heart in the right place, and does contain a couple of tender moments.
But unfortunately, too much of the good stuff is surrounded by a great deal of the not-so good. Just when you think it’s taking a mature stance, and dealing with important issues head-on, the film ruins all of its hard work on cheap gags, including one cringeworthy scene involving a dog and some man-mayonnaise.
It’s moments like this which really scupper the film and stop it from becoming better than it is. In an attempt to be funny it misses the mark, and all that is left are juvenile japes that simply fall flat.
Scrape off all the misjudged parts of the picture and Hard Feelings would be OK, because the cast are fine, the ideas are all there, and it’s not too difficult to see its potential. But as it stands, it just doesn’t work, and tonally it is all over the place.
I imagine many streamers will ditch Hard Feelings early on, never reaching the better material in the movie because too much of the film is either a chore, or frankly quite off putting. I’d say this is a shame, due to some of the decent content in the film, but in all honesty, it is still too much of a slog regardless of what it gets right.
If you do make it from start to finish, you will discover there is something of value in Hard Feelings, but you still have to ask yourself, was it worth the journey? Does a film that runs 100-minutes in length, with only about 30-minutes of good content, really deserve your time?
Personally, I’d much rather watch a show like Netflix’s Sex Education, which offers up discussions about sex from a youth perspective, while remaining entertaining at the same time. For me, this show is the best example of this type of story, and I’d prefer to spend hours on a series which ticks all the boxes, over a film that only manages to tick a few.
Disappointing, messy, and not up to scratch, Hard Feelings is a bit of an oddity that just doesn’t land. It’s not a complete car crash, and some audiences may get something out of it, but it definitely didn’t hit the spot for me.
Netflix continues to offer up quirky stories, often with youth appeal, so I can see why this one was added to the streaming service, but it is mostly a misfire. Unless you’re desperate to take a look, I’d recommend you try something else instead.
Thank you for taking the time to read this review on It’s A Stampede!. For more reviews, check out the recommended reads below.
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