“I happily rate the Hating Game movie 5/5 stars

by Abigail Troppmann

In early 2021, I decided to read The Hating Game by Sally Thorne. It’s an enemies-to-lovers romance between two coworkers at a publishing house that appear to loathe each other.

The plot is basically a vision-board for my future. I loved the book so much I read it twice. I was hooked! It was so well written. The romance, the relationship arc, the characters. I loved it all. When Sally Thorne announced the Hating Game had been adapted into a movie starring Lucy Hale, I got excited.

The thing is, I have always been skeptical/critical of book-to-film adaptations because a novel’s nuance often gets lost in translation. Here is how I see it: if the book is, say, 800 pages and the movie is two-and-a-half hours long, there is a slim chance the movie will be any good.

Yes, that is a direct reference to the 2019 dumpster fire that is The Goldfinch. In my opinion, Donna Tartt wrote a modern masterpiece. It’s one of the best books I have ever read. Maybe I was a little excited, but the hours leading up to watching the movie I felt like a kid on Christmas. You can imagine the way my cartoonishly large heart deflated as I realized they removed important subplots and destroyed character arcs. It was the first time I ever left a movie theatre feeling so betrayed that I was considering angrily tweeting at the screenwriter. Needless to say, that was the last time I got my hopes up for an adaptation.

I was very nervous to watch The Hating Game. It’s the middle of finals and I’m in an emotionally fragile and sleep deprived state. I really needed the movie to be good. Five minutes in, my shoulders relaxed. The story opens with the main character Lucy Hutton (Lucy Hale) reflecting that hating someone feels an awful lot like falling in love. At least, that’s how she feels about her officemate/enemy, Joshua Templeman (Austin Stowell). They are put up for the same promotion, and competitive, sexy hilarity ensues.

Lucy Hale and Austin Stowell’s chemistry is electric. I’m a sucker for banter rife with sexual tension, and they delivered. Physically they are spot on to the characters I imagined in my mind’s eye. Joshua’s extreme height is highlighted a couple times in the book, making him tower over everyone, especially Lucy. Austin Stowell is 6’1, and Lucy Hale is 5’2. When he picked her up, she looked like a doll.

So, yeah. The casting was perfect.

Lots of little details made it into the movie, which made me very happy. The “sleepysaurus” shirt! The smurfs! The matchbook cars! Lucy’s eccentricities and Josh’s cleanliness! When Josh apologizes to Lucy for their elevator rendezvous, he asks her if they can lay their weapons down. In a surprisingly hilarious bit of physical comedy from Lucy Hale, she unloaded her imaginary weapons: a handgun, a bazooka of some form and a knife from her boot. I giggled.

Their office, where a vast majority of the story takes place, is perfect. Lucy’s chaotic clutter and Josh’s meticulous organization is exactly cut down the middle, even down to the tiny Christmas tree in between their desks. Lucy’s side is covered in ornaments, and Josh’s side is barren. There is one ornament on the back of his side, which is probably from Lucy messing with Josh. The tiny details are what really sold me.

I swear to God I have almost the exact same orange chair Lucy has in her office. Great taste, Lucy! This is further proof that I should simply become Lucy. I wouldn’t mind a handsomely grumpy archnemesis.

After reading the book twice, it is nice to be able to watch Josh without the bias of the narrator. Like how unkempt he looks the day after kissing her and learning how his words actually affect her. Seeing him alone in Lucy’s apartment after takes care of her?! The way he smiles to softly as he snoops around?! Be still my beating heart!

I’m not afraid to say it: Enemies to lovers is the best romance trope. There is no need for further discussion. Unfortunately, The Hating Game also has one of the worst tropes: miscommunication. It drives me up the wall because it’s so painful to watch them be happy and giddy with their new love, until someone overhears something out of context and everything gets blown out of proportion. I know it’s just fiction, but it sets my heart rate up. However, the way Sally Thorne wrote the miscommunication in The Hating Game made it justifiable. Lucy has spent her entire working relationship with Josh hating him and distrusting him. A couple rolls around the hay and a proclamation of love isn’t enough to dislodge that history.

The film shows us the intimate moments — good, bad, and ugly of love. That’s what the Hating Game is all about. A big thank you to the director Peter Hutchings, and the screenwriter Christina Mengert for a damn-near perfect adaptation. Of course, there were things missing, but that is to be expected. Certain nuances cannot be mimicked from page to screen.

I happily rate the Hating Game movie 5/5 stars.

The Hating Game is in theatres, and for rent on the usual streaming platforms