Not to sound overdramatic, but Justin & Christian Long’s new release, Lady of the Manor, has to be one of the most aggressively unfunny comedies to come out in recent years. And it all comes down to two things: an incredibly unlikeable protagonist and humor that just simply does not land throughout the whole 95-minute runtime.
Justin has been well utilized as an actor in past funny movies, such as Dean Parisot’s Galaxy Quest (1999), Rawson Marshall Thurber’s Dodgeball (2004) and Sam Raimi’s horror-comedy Drag Me to Hell (2009). So naturally it would make sense working with successful comics and comedians would rub off on his own sense of humor. Lady of the Manor proves this might not always be the case, at least with a first attempt in the director’s chair.
In modern day Savannah, GA—where no one seems to have a natural southern accent—Nancy (Melanie Lynskey) is an incompetent, lazy weed ‘deliverer’ who’s arrested and dumped by her boyfriend after a misunderstanding one afternoon. Local heir, Tanner (Ryan Phillippe), is just as lazy and incompetent as Nancy and offers her a job as the in-character tour guide of his family’s historic mansion.
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Things go just as sloppily as you’d expect until Nancy discovers the mansion is actually haunted by Lady Wadsworth (Judy Greer), who was the original maintainer of the house in 1850.
It’s hard to pinpoint which Long brother Lady of the Manor’s lackluster qualities gravitate from, and if this is another case of actors who should probably stick to just acting. The worst part for me is the casting, as I’m a longtime fan of Lynskey and Phillippe and both are completely wasted here with genuinely awful characters. Greer actually does fairly well with the title role for what little she has to work with, and Long does manage to be his endearing self as Lynskey’s love interest.
I love Melanie Lynskey in everything. I love Judy Greer in anything. LADY OF THE MANOR is terrible.
— Walter Chaw 周瑜 (@mangiotto) September 16, 2021
But the jokes are beyond outdated to the point where I don’t think they would have worked even a decade or two ago. Just in the first act of Lady of the Manor, we get gags on pedophilia and sexual assault from our own main character; and in a 2021 released film, for some reason the production team thought it was a good idea for the antagonist to use ‘r*tard’ as an outburst. Surprisingly there is a semi-rewarded happyish ending for Greer’s Wadsworth, but it’s unsatisfactory when Lynskey’s Nancy is just as selfish and inconsiderate as Phillippe’s Tanner for the whole movie.
Why does Lady Wadsworth waste her ghostly time attempting to mentor Nancy when she doesn’t deserve it? Why is an American character referred to as ‘Lady’ when the US has never had organized nobility? Why was the one moment that made me legitimately chuckle a cheap fart gag that ended up being unnecessarily repeated two more times in the movie? These are questions neither the filmmakers nor viewers care for answers to by the end of Lady of the Manor.
Lady of the Manor (1/10) Poor attempts at comedy throughout the story, despite a solid premise featuring B-list actors now on the D-list who give no effort. A bad script might be to blame, or just Melanie Lynskey whose acting ability fades in and out, depending on the scene. pic.twitter.com/43vBqpHBaY
— ExtraFeaturesPodcast (@ExtraFeaturespc) September 21, 2021
Have you seen Lady of the Manor, now on Amazon Prime? Did you find anything redeemable about it? Let us know in the comments!
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