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Parents' Guide to

The Hating Game

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Chemistry between charming leads sells steamy romcom.

Movie R 2021 102 minutes
The Hating Game Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 16+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 16+
age 16+

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2 ):
Kids say (6 ):

Attractive stars and a classic romance-novel device make this adaptation come alive with swoon-worthy chemistry and surprisingly good comic timing. Considering the popularity of Thorne's novel on social media, it seemed destined to reach the big screen. Director Peter Hutchings, working from an adapted script by Christina Mengert, captures and improves upon aspects of the source material. The story no longer has a nameless setting (the Australian Thorne purposely wrote it in a way that let readers imagine any big English-speaking city in the world) but is located in Manhattan's intense publishing world, where mergers are commonplace and competing interests between literary/prestige houses and commercial/airport-paperback titles are believable. And Hale and Stowell's chemistry does the book more than justice, cranking up their characters' unresolved sexual tension. The backstory about Lucy's close relationship to her strawberry-farmer parents isn't as well fleshed out as Josh's third-act reveal about his dysfunctional family dynamics, but there's enough to endear audiences to her plight as a beautiful-but-quirky aspiring editor.

The romance works not only because of the actors but also because the "enemies to lovers" storyline, while well worn, is more fun than, say, an angst-filled love triangle or best friends being scared to take the next step. This is the sort of romcom for fans of Darcy and Lizzie, You've Got Mail, or any number of other stories where the characters' initial dislike is so obviously threaded with attraction. Familiarity with the source book isn't necessary but will add enjoyment to hearing specific lines (like "Watching you pretend to hate the nickname is the best part of my day" or "Hating someone feels disturbingly similar to being in love with them") and watching sequences that are nearly identical to book passages. Bernsen and Jaffrey successfully chew the scenery as bickering bosses who can't agree on anything -- including what makes a good assistant -- with Bernsen perfectly embodying a sexist, golfing, elitist executive. The catchy, pop-heavy soundtrack prominently features Angelina Jordan's "Mercy," two Dagny tracks, and the ballad "This Is How You Fall in Love" by Jeremy Zucker and Chelsea Cutler. While it's not perfect, the leads make The Hating Game a winning romcom, particularly for the love story's existing followers.

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