The Hating Game
Derrick Dunn

Derrick Dunn

The chemistry of Lucy Hale & Austin Stowell elevate The Hating Game

Peter Hutchings directs Lucy Hale and Austin Stowell in the romantic comedy, The Hating Game from Vertical Entertainment.  Christina Mengert pens the screenplay, an adaptation of Sally Throne’s same-titled novel. Ambitious good girl Lucy Hutton (Hale) has always been certain that the nice girl can get that corner office. She’s charming and accommodating and prides herself on being loved by everyone at Bexley & Gamin. Everyone except for coldly efficient, impeccably attired, physically intimidating, Joshua Templeman (Stowell)

Trapped in a shared office together 40 (ok, 50 or 60) hours a week, they’ve become entrenched in an addictive, yet ridiculous never-ending game of one-upmanship. There’s the Staring Game. The Mirror Game and The HR Game. Lucy can’t let Joshua beat her at anything – especially when a huge new promotion goes up for the taking. If Lucy wins this game, she’ll be Joshua’s boss. If she loses, she’ll resign. So why is she suddenly having steamy dreams about Joshua and dressing for work like she’s got a hot date? 

After a perfectly innocent elevator ride ends with an earth-shattering kiss, Lucy starts to wonder whether she’s got Joshua Templeman all wrong.  Maybe Lucy Hutton doesn’t really hate Joshua Templeman. And perhaps he doesn’t hate her either. Or perhaps it’s all another game.

I hadn’t read the source material for The Hating Game, so I walked into the film strictly by being a fan of Lucy Hale. Furthermore, I grew up watching Lifetime flicks, so I’ve never had an issue watching romantic comedies. Our two leads previously co-starred in last year’s horror flick, Fantasy Island, and while Hale and Stowell were part of an ensemble in their previous film, it was great to see the two have more scenes together this go around.

In simplest terms, Menget’s script follows the Screenwriter’s guide for Rom-Com’s extensively.  Lucy and Joshua bicker while the audience knows there is some sexual tension between the two. It’s also crystal clear that Josh has some unresolved issues from his past, and Lucy is his Superwoman in disguise.  That said, the director keeps the film moving along, so the film never overstays its welcome.

Without our likable leads, The Hating Game wouldn’t be as much fun as it is. That said, I will point out that some of the situations between our leads will require some suspension of disbelief in the Me Too era as it’s an HR nightmare waiting to happen. Nevertheless though, the film takes its time building up the romantic arc for Lucy and Josh while the side characters are here to navigate the story alone. 

The only name of note in the supporting cast is Corbin Bernsen, who may carry the character name of Bexley, but he pretty much portrays variants of other characters he’s played before. The other characters are nothing more than rom-com templates; the understanding boss, the friend zone guy who has no chance with her heroine, and of course, our hero’s family.

While The Hating Game doesn’t offer anything new, the performances from our leads do earn the film a recommendation for a girls’ night in or Netflix & Chill.

Final Grade: C+

 

The Hating Game is available to stream now on VOD

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