If you’re a fan of romantic comedies, then The Hating Game is easy to love. Unless, of course, you’re a novel elitist, in which case, you might nitpick more than others. Still, as someone who adores the “hate to love/rivals” trope—Sally Thorne’s novel was a miss for me. As a story that spends more time telling than showing, it misses the marks to bring in the kind of emotions I’m generally looking for in my modern-day romance consumption. Now, that’s not to say I hate the book, but I didn’t love it nearly as much as almost everyone I know does.
However, The Hating Game as a film works to show us enough of the quips to make Lucy Hutton (Lucy Hale) and Joshua Templeman (Austin Stowell) easy to root for. Their on-screen chemistry is palpable and intense. Lucy Hale is especially perfect as Lucy Hutton, and she is exactly how I pictured while reading the novel, but more than that, she is a standout performer consistently showcasing with each film she does that her range is truly underrated.
Austin Stowell matches Hale’s playfulness with Josh’s vigor in a delicate manner and the moments of vulnerability between the couple are even better than their bickering. The film is full of romantic comedy picturesque moments that are ultimately part of the reason why fans of this genre adore it. They look good, and they evoke the right kinds of butterflies.
There’s still a bit more telling than showing where the narration is concerned, but at the very least, the film manages to give us more of the slow, quiet moments that work best. Pay attention to the little moments between the two, which are guaranteed to be the best, most moving, and the most memorable.
Additionally, whether everything from the novel is adapted onto the screen is something I’d rather not spoil for anyone reading before watching—not to mention the detail that everyone has their own specific moments they’d keep or sacrifice. (At least the paintball fight scene is there, right?) In most adaptations, it is nearly impossible to keep everything as is. And yet, The Hating Game manages to be a compelling film regardless, which will be especially easy for fans coming into the film without reading the novel. It’ll be enough to pique their interest, thus prompting them to then read as well.
Lucy’s outfits are stunning, the set design of the office works to create the kind of frustrating tension we’d all expect from this film, and Sakina Jeffrey is particularly excellent as Helen. They could not have chosen an actress more fitting for the role. However, the cast is the best part of the adaptation in every way. I wouldn’t change a single person, and that’s something that many might not agree with, but with the script and chemistry, everyone does their part excellently.
There are plenty of scenes gif-worthy, and full of the kind of romance magic that so many of us adore. The dialogue is witty and fun. The bottom line is, may The Hating Game prelude more romance novel adaptations because I’d give anything to see Emily Henry’s Beach Read.
The Hating Game is available in select theaters and On Demand starting December 10!