LADY OF THE MANOR
starring Melanie Lynskey, Judy Greer, Justin Long, Ryan Philippe
written and directed by Justin Long & Christian Long
starring Gerard Butler, Frank Grillo, Alexis Louder, Toby Huss
screenplay by Kurt McLeod and Joe Carnahan
directed by Joe Carnahan
by Walter Chaw The first perky, jaunty violin strokes in the oppressive score announce exactly the kind of garbage Justin and Christian Long's Lady of the Manor is going to be: self-satisfied, high-concept comedy that apes Neil Jordan's High Spirits and Jared and Jerusha Hess's Austenland while entirely wasting Melanie Lynskey and Judy Greer. I would watch Lynskey and Greer in anything--and Lady of the Manor tested me sorely, immediately, repeatedly. Its execution is '80s VHS Screwballs quickie tossed together with cheap gags, an overreliance on fart and dick jokes, exaggerated in-camera effects, and skits that fall flat and don't stop falling for at least ten or twenty beats after they've died. They were dead before they got there. There are montages that are just expository scenes strung together and there's a running gag where Greer is asked to shake her head disapprovingly while Lynskey sucks on a bar of soap and shrugs. There's another where Greer makes "silly" faces in a mirror for a long, long time to demonstrate how she misses her friend and also how maybe she's loosening up, and it's unbelievably painful to watch someone so brilliant and naturally hilarious shoehorned into a square hole as stolid and unforgiving as this. Admittedly, it takes actual talent to make something this terrible. I mean, you can't do it accidentally.