The Hating Game: Review

The+Hating+Game%3A+Review

Leila Feldman, Staff Writer

SPOILER ALERT

At some point last year I found out that my favorite book — The Hating Game — was being made into a movie. I flipped. I was so excited, I even added it to my Google Calendar.

On Friday December 10, I watched it.

In the interest of full transparency, I had a lot of expectations. This book was so marvelously written that I thought it would be challenging for the director to translate that into the movie. The book follows two publishing assistants, Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman, in their work rivalry. The publishing house Lucy and Joshua work for, B&G, is the product of two opposing publishing houses being forced to merge to save themselves from financial ruin. Lucy and Joshua’s  rivalry has blurred lines of love and hate and slowly the two fall for each other. It’s the best type of book: enemies to lovers, set it in the perfect romcom environment of the workplace.

The movie has its good and bad, as every movie does. Let’s start with the bad. 

There were a few scenes that happened in the book that were vital to their love story that the director chose to leave out of the film adaptation. The most important of those was their big fight that ultimately led to Josh confessing that he has loved Lucy since the first day they met. I found myself waiting for this scene and when it didn’t arrive I was disappointed. The director also didn’t give time for the hating to grow and to reach the tipping point that it does in the book. To some extent, it’s clear to a viewer that they hate each other. The movie opens with a scene of Josh annoyingly copying everything Lucy does as she rearranges her desk and furiously types at her computer but there isn’t the same banter that was ever-present in the beginning of the book. 

I’ve found that for enemies-to-lovers books there needs to be a tipping point where you find yourself on the edge of your seat thinking one is going to punch the other in the face. That crucial tension was not there. I wasn’t alone in this feeling; Ferdosa Abdi from Screenrant affirmed my frustration, saying, “much of Lucy and Josh’s banter and supposed ‘hate’ for each other isn’t given much room to breathe, and there is little build-up to their first kiss in an elevator.” The actors very clearly have good chemistry and the fact that the director didn’t milk that frustrated me. Rarely do I blame the writing in the movie for it being bad, however here, I felt like the actors’ chemistry was there but the script wasn’t. Here’s the even more frustrating part: there is an already written script! The book! So, the writers really didn’t have an excuse. They could have taken the dialogue right out of the book and I would have been happy. 

Now that we’re done with that, on to the good. 

The movie itself was lighthearted and wistful and made you believe that you too would one day find an office-crush-turned-boyfriend. And the applause for the chemistry was present in every single one of the reviews. The Record put it best, saying the chemistry “fizzes through the screen, moving with an easy pattern through this delightful film that exudes charm from start to finish.” The way the characters grew to love and to learn from each other and the clear yet meaningful cinematography choices made the movie easier to understand for a first-time viewer. Lucy was often clothed in bright colors and red lipstick, while Josh was often in plain blue, and that separation and contrast in one space was so well done. “Lucy’s is messy, kitschy, cluttered, and cute, while Josh seems to go more for the cold corporate look,” said Kate Erbland from Indie Wire.

As well, there are some beautiful moments that filled my heart with joy. One was when Lucy was sick and Josh not only took care of her but also cleaned her whole apartment, a display of his love for her. Another was when they were driving home after his brothers’ wedding and he was holding her hand. Such a small sweet moment, but still a lovable one at that. 

I’m a sucker for the best endings and this movie fulfilled my inner hopeless romanticism. When Lucy and Josh yet again are at their playful banter and the movie closes on the two of them arm in arm — it puts such a nice bow on the movie, one that I was shamelessly hoping for.