A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Don't judge someone based on an inaccurate first impression; learn to communicate in a healthy way with a romantic partner; don't let others undermine your self-confidence; be open about your relationship needs. Even those who seem to have it all together need reassurance and support.
Positive Role Models
Lucy is hardworking, dedicated, generous, kind, and loyal. Joshua is organized, disciplined, and ambitious. Both of them are exemplary at their jobs, despite their disparate styles. Once they get over their miscommunications and really talk through their issues, each sees how the other is good for them. Helen is a supportive and caring boss, but Bexley is a sexist "good ol' boy" who dismisses Lucy and Helen.
The movie centers White, heterosexual, able-bodied characters, despite being set in the very diverse New York City. There's little racial, ethnic, LGBTQ+, or any other form of diversity, but the few representations that are included -- Lucy's boss, Helen, is a woman of color (indeterminate ethnicity); her co-worker Julie is Black (albeit portrayed as flakey and unreliable); and the company's HR director is Black -- are more than were in the source novel.
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Violence & Scariness
Comical violence during a game of paintball that leaves Lucy bruised (purple and blue bruising on her abdomen).
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
In one love scene, Josh is shown wearing only a low-slung towel, which Lucy takes off him. His naked butt is visible, and she gasps at his naked body. They make love; his bare back is shown, but she keeps her dress on. In the next scene, they're in bed with bare shoulders. Lucy has an erotic dream about Josh in which, he -- fully dressed in a suit -- gets on top of her in bed and says something naughty in her ear. They discuss the dream, but not that he was in it. Lucy kisses another character three times in quick succession on a date. Lucy and Josh kiss passionately on several occasions and end up on a bed more than once. Sexual innuendo/overt references in conversations, like "I'm going to work you so f--king hard" or "let's play the who can make the other one come first game," or "let's just do it."
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Frequent strong language includes "f--k," "s--t," "bulls--t," "a--hole," "douche," "d--k," "son of a bitch," "damn," "donkey farts," "nitwit in a pushup bra," and other insults.
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Products & Purchases
Apple MacBook, Dell computer, iPhone, Smurfs heavily featured.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults drink wine, champagne, and cocktails at bars, dinners, and receptions. A bride and a guest joke about needing a joint (or meth, or any drug) to get through a wedding reception.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Hating Game is an entertaining, somewhat steamy book-based workplace romantic comedy about rival New York City publishing assistants (Fantasy Island stars Lucy Hale and Austin Stowell) who hate each other ... until they fall for each other. Expect more language than in the typical romcom ("f--k," "bitch," "a--hole," etc.), but the movie is still likely to appeal to teens thanks to the stars and the enduring popularity of Sally Thorne's best-selling source novel on social media (including the now prevalent #BookTok). The movie's kissing and sex scenes are less explicit than the ones in the book, but one does show a man's naked behind, and there's passionate kissing and some fairly explicit sexual references. Adults drink cocktails at dinners, dates, and receptions. Although the movie -- which is set in New York City (unlike the ambiguously located novel) -- is slightly more diverse than the book, it's still mostly White, which doesn't accurately reflect its setting. Themes include the importance of healthy communication, especially with a romantic partner. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.