Sometimes an adorable rom-com with certifiably gorgeous leads sizzling with chemistry is just the comfort food I need! The Hating Game is pretty much exactly what one would expect—it does what it promises on the tin. That old saying about how kids only act mean to you because they hate you has never been this poignant, or relevant. Lucy Hale and Austin Stowell play Lucy and Joshua, respectively, whose heated rivalry blossoms into an equally heated love affair. The R-rating allows for punched up language and sexual content, giving the movie an edge over some of its watered-down brethren.
Lucy and Joshua work together as assistants to the co-CEOs of a massive publishing company. Joshua is Lucy’s total nemesis, a polar opposite personality-wise. She hates him because she has never seen him smile; he is a control freak; and he repeats a different shirt color scheme for every day of the week. When a managing director position goes up for grabs, they make a pact that if one of them gets the promotion, the other must leave the company for good. As an intimate bond forms between Lucy and Joshua, the duo is forced to come to terms with their unconventional relationship, as well as the ramifications against their career goals.
Based on the book by Sandy Thorne, The Hating Game fleshes out the love story instead of dragging it out to the point of annoyance. You know Lucy and Joshu will get together at a certain point, so why delay the inevitable? After a steamy elevator kiss early in the film, all bets are off. I mentioned that R-rating once before, but it truly does allow the filmmakers and audience an insightful window into the characters. The chemistry between Lucy and Joshua certainly helps, reflective of a natural real-life bond between actors Lucy and Austin. I deeply missed seeing Lucy Hale on my screen since the abrupt (and painful) cancellation of The CW’s Katy Keene; her role as Lucy allows her to fill the sharp-tongued shoes of another likable character. Saucy sex scenes and snappy dialogue between the duo reminded me of stellar Netflix rom-coms like Set it Up and To All the Boys I Loved Before.
I cannot say how closely this sticks to the source material, but I have to admit it makes for an engaging watch. For the cynics out there, take your negativity elsewhere—The Hating Game is just a breezy romantic comedy that oozes charm. It never tries to be more than the sum of its parts. In this day and age, I find that is something to be massively commended, keeping it simple and injecting ample amounts of cuteness. I can think of worse ways to spend two hours. I will personally be anxiously awaiting whatever Lucy Hale decides to do next! Hate and love may be similar emotions when you break them down to their core, and The Hating Game should warrant only a love response from a romantically-starved fanbase.
The Hating Game plays matchmaker when it debuts in select theatres and VOD on Friday, December 10th.