Review by Dan Skip Allen
It's hard to say what's funny and not funny because every person has their own standards. Lady of the Manor was meant to be a funny take on southern life and history. The problem is these characters in the film aren't in the least funny, let alone entertaining.
Melanie Lynskey plays a lazy woman who doesn't have anything going for her in life. Sure she's got a job but shortly loses it due to her incompetence. She has a fluke encounter with a well-to-do young man played by Ryan Phillipe. He offers her a job at his family's historical manor as a host of a tour. He has some ulterior sexual motives though. She starts to see the real scam behind the man with a little help from a local history professor played by Justin Long and the ghost of the woman she's portraying as the tour host.
Long also directed the film with his brother Christian and enlisted help from some friends of his in various roles, including Judy Greer as the ghost and Louis Guzmán as an empathetic wise-cracking bartender. Long tries to make this a funny historically-driven story, but most of the jokes fall short. This film just has a bunch of contrivances in the script. It asks the viewers to have quite the suspension of disbelief in the events that occur.
Filmed locally where I'm from in Florida, Lady in the Manor has some nice sights. It's got the feeling of a southern story. The accents and locations are on point. That's some good production value. The costumes and hair and makeup are strong as well. Other than the contrivances in the script, the historical aspects are quite interesting.
Like a lot of comedies these days, this film relies on cheap laughs from toilet humor. Two, in particular, are when Lynskey's character asks to go into another room so she can fart in private, but there is a man in the room. And the other is when she's barring her sole to Guzman's bartender and he says he had other customers and the camera pans around and there is nobody in the bar. Cheap laughs that don't work in the overall context of the story.
Lady of the Manor is a film that didn't need to be made. It's not funny other than two cheap laughs it got from toilet humor. The story is full of contrivances and the acting isn't very good from Long's friends he enlisted to be in this bad history lesson. If Long wants to direct another film, he should find better material than this.
Lady of the Manor is now in theaters and on VOD.