Hard sell is an amalgamation of Risky Business meets The Graduate in an endearing way.
Set on the Gold Coast of Long Island, Hardy (Skyler Gisondo) is a senior at an elite school that he and his mentally ill, housebound mother, Lorna (Kristin Chenoweth) can’t afford. Their financial problems become even worse when their dog, to whom Lorna is attached, falls ill and needs an expensive operation.
Hardy thinks he’s found an answer to his problems when he meets runaway, ex-stripper Bo (Katrina Bowden), at the homeless shelter where he volunteers. He brings her home to meet his mother, who’s delighted that her boy has at last found a girlfriend.
Hardy and Bo’s relationship, although not romantic, proves beneficial for both. He takes her to his school and introduces her to his male classmates, who pay for the privilege of seeing her bare breasts. In return, she provides down-to-earth advice about life and love to the teenagers who’ve had little experience with either,
Meanwhile, a man claiming to be Bo’s uncle (Kevin Kilner) is making inquiries about her whereabouts, while Hardy’s business falls under the scrutiny of the disapproving school administrators. What follows is a complicated resolution for Hardy’s mother, Bo, and of course Hardy.
I really enjoyed this film. It’s one of those old fashioned, feel-good, everything-works-out-in-the-end movies that leave you feeling satisfied that you have travelled an interesting journey.
The three major actors all present detailed, totally believable characters.
I have only seen Kristin Chenoweth in movies that have been superficial so I was pleasantly surprised that her performance as a broken, mentally ill woman was very powerful. Gone was the attractive hairstyle and makeup, replaced by a woman who is trapped by her illness.
Skyler Gisondo, known best for Night at the Museum, carried more than his weight in the central role. The scene when he commits his mother to a home because, as a teenager, he can’t cope any longer, is particularly memorable.
Katrina Bowden, from the sitcom 30 Rock, carries much of the comedic burden as the stripper with a dark secret. Her comic timing was spot on and her scenes giving teenagers advice about their sex lives were extremely entertaining.
So, all in all, Hard Sell isn’t going to win any awards, but is an enjoyable watch if you want two hours of comedy with heart.
Reviewed by Barry Hill
Rating out of 10: 9
Hard Sell will be released on DVD from 8 March 2017.