The Hating Game: Do I Hate It?


Erin Hong, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Warning: This review contains spoilers for both the book and the movie The Hating Game. 


It’s not really a secret, but I’m a fan of movies that don’t require me to think; sometimes, I just need a space to get away from my spiraling thoughts and shut my brain off. That’s why I decided to give The Hating Game a shot. I had already read the original novel a few years ago and mostly enjoyed it, so I thought that it would be a good idea. I might have to think twice about that now.

The Hating Game is a romantic comedy film (with an original novel of the same name) following protagonists Lucy Hutton (Lucy Hale) and Joshua Templeman (Austin Stowell), rival co-workers who are forced to work together after their respective companies merge as one. Facing each other every day for hours at the office, they begin to play subtle, tension-filled games such as the Staring Game, the Mirror Game, and— best of all—the Hating Game. 

Don’t get me wrong, the movie was fine. The actors were in character and the film followed the general plot of the book relatively well. But there was just something about the characters and the process of the movie that felt so one-dimensional. All the characters felt overall shallow, maybe even the protagonists. Lucy’s only quirk was that she was obsessed with Smurfs fanfiction, which I personally found so random that it wasn’t even interesting. I understand that the movie was not given enough time to properly expand upon the novel, but it felt as if the directors were just trying to hit every point that the novel covered without actually going into detail about it or explaining it to the audience. They left entire parts of essential character traits that were emphasized in the book, such as Lucy’s parents and the strawberry farm she grew up on, that would’ve presented the reader with so much more context about her character. 

I watched the movie with Kaylie Rim (’22), who said that she “[felt] that the director tried to accurately represent the book, but certain climaxing scenes that were supposed to contain fire lacked the passion and turned out to be more or less mediocre.”

In addition, they tweaked changes that I wasn’t so sure I loved. For instance, one of the crucial scenes at the end of the novel is that Joshua shows Lucy his room, which he painted baby blue like the color of her eyes. The actress who plays Lucy Hutton, however, has dark green eyes. Therefore, the walls in the movie are portrayed as dark green. Small details like that are changed throughout the course of the movie. 

Plus, the romance. The film is a rom-com, after all, so I do believe it should be talked about. My conclusion about the romance is that it’s fine. It’s not mind-blowingly wonderful and soul-striking. It’s not atrocious. It’s fine. I think that the actors did a pretty good job with following their characters from the novel, which I appreciated very much. However, I do think that the movie made the romance a little too blaringly obvious. Rim, who said that the book had a much more nuanced and subtle tension between the protagonists, agreed with me on this. From the beginning, it’s very obvious that the protagonists are desperately in love with each other and trying to flirt to their maximum capacity. But I also thought that there were cute moments that I relatively enjoyed watching.

Finally, I’m not quite sure what the directors were trying to say about the “comedy” part in a romantic comedy movie. The humor was just… strange. It was so strange that it wasn’t even funny, if that makes sense. I personally believe that the best humor is when it’s somewhat relatable, but this kind of humor wasn’t even relatable at all (cough, cough, Smurf fanfiction). Frankly, the topic of Smurf fanfiction was one that had never entered my brain throughout my years of life. On the other hand, that might just be me. I also felt as if the movie was very much targeted towards older generations, leaving Gen Z viewers, like myself, a little more than confused through various parts of the movie. 

Overall, despite its strange moments, I’d definitely recommend The Hating Game if you’re in need of a mind-breather. It’s a simple romantic story with a drop of comedy and an expected ending. But as far as movie-book comparisons go, I personally much preferred the latter.