Review by Camden Ferrell
Dean Craig is best known for being the writer of Frank Oz’s comedy Death at a Funeral. The new comedy The Estate was written and directed by Craig, and it’s his second time directing a feature film. This movie had its premiere at the BFI London Film Festival last month. Even though there are a few funny and awkward moments throughout, this cringe comedy ultimately falls short of making the audience laugh wildly with discomfort.
Macey and Savanna are two sisters who find themselves in less than desirable positions in their life. However, all of this can change thanks to their bitter and absurdly rich Aunt who is in her final days. As the two sisters visit to win her favor, they find out that the rest of their family is just as eager to claim the fortune she is about to leave behind. This is a great premise that could have massive potential to capitalize on its talented ensemble and familiar but funny set up.
Craig’s writing throughout is dry, gross, and awkward. These are fantastic traits to have in a comedy movie and can make for some really unique laughs, but these elements don’t always work together in this movie. Some of its jokes and comedic moments lack the proper execution and try too hard for a laugh instead of letting the comedy come naturally. There are a handful of funny lines and moments that stand out, but as a whole, the writing is passable at most.
The movie boasts a very talented and famous ensemble. Toni Collette and Anna Faris play Macey and Savanna respectively. They are joined on screen by actors like Rosemarie DeWitt, David Duchovny, Kathleen Turner, and Ron Livingston. These are talented actors that should have been able to make a gut-busting ensemble, but the results are lukewarm. The most prominent actors are Collette and Faris who aren’t bad but are far from memorable. The rest of the cast is just as forgettable even though they have a few good interactions. Their chemistry unfortunately feels too forced throughout.
While Craig’s writing doesn’t always deliver, his execution and vision as a director is quite good at times. The timing and pacing of certain scenes do set up some genuinely good laughs, and his qualities as a director still shine when his qualities as a writer falter. With a better and more natural script, this movie could have been full of hilarity.
The Estate may please viewers looking for a cringe comedy that can be dry and a little crass at times. However, some might also find laughs that are forced and jokes that just miss the mark. Craig is able to orchestrate a few great moments, but the ensemble unfortunately disappoints considering the amount of talent involved.
The Estate is in theaters November 3.