Justin Long chose an interesting film for his directorial debut. Lady of the Manor is Casper meets For a Good Time Call …, which is not a dig, as I found both those films enjoyable. The best way to categorize the movie is as a raunchy ghost story, which is an interesting combination. My skepticism was high going into the film, and while I did enjoy the film, I will say that it ran a little long. There are several scenes that could have been cut out, and I feel like for the most part it wouldn’t have sacrificed quality. Melanie Lynskey of Two And A Half Men fame played to her niche, embodying another quirky character, but this time a rated-R version. Rounding out the cast, Judy Greer as the aforementioned lady of the manor, Ryan Phillippe, Luis Guzman, Patrick Duffy (Dallas), and of course, the director himself, Justin Long. Interesting tidbit I learned: principal photography and filming for the movie took place in the Tampa and Saint Petersburg area. I thought certain areas looked familiar.
The film centers around Lynskey’s Hannah Kolinsky, a lazy and directionless stoner who manages to get herself in trouble with the law when she somehow ends up at the wrong address for her weed delivery and ends up ensnared in a To Catch a Predator-esque sting. I will say that this was something I did not expect. Based on the preview, I foresaw the trouble with the cops, but the circumstance really was funny, especially the reverse sexual harassment from the paid actor who ensnares her. Even the cops had to shake their heads about it.
Hannah manages to escape the unfortunate incident with community service; however, the incident results in her fiancée leaving her and her becoming homeless. Meanwhile, rich and entitled playboy, Tanner Wadsworth (Philippe) has been forced by his parents to take over managing the Wadsworth Manor House, a historical landmark that gives daily home tours. However, Tanner uses it predominantly to try to hook up with the woman hired to portray the famous lady of the Manor, Lady Wadsworth (Greer). Overhearing about Hannah’s troubles, Tanner offers her the job, which she eagerly accepts. As expected, Hannah is terrible at the job: she’s late, she can’t remember her lines and proceeds to make them up as she goes, which draws the ire of History professor Max Cameron (Long), and more importantly Lady Wadsworth’s ghost, who only Hannah can see.
Appalled by Hannah’s portrayal as well as her unladylike tendencies, Lady Wadsworth proceeds to make Hannah’s life a nightmare until Hannah agrees to allow the ghost to teach her what it means to be a lady, in true My Fair Lady fashion.
So as previously mentioned, the film ran a bit longer than it needed to in my opinion. There were just some areas that could have been shored up to make the film flow better. For example, the multiple bar scenes featuring Luis Guzman. No offense to Guzman, but aside from the first scene and the last one in the bar, the other two occasions didn’t really serve any purpose to the overall story. Also, I don’t think there was enough emphasis on Lady Wadsworth’s death early on; it is just sort of hinted at that foul play was involved. I would have loved to have seen that. Those circumstances would have been more interesting than the constant returns to the bar.
Lynskey is very entertaining, I will say. The character was vey much in her wheelhouse, as she has made a career out of playing quirky characters. Again, I thoroughly enjoyed the arrest scene, for the lighthearted banter she provided. She is very quick-witted, and it serves this character well. That said, the character is a bit one-dimensional with no real depth, but given the kind of the film that it is, that is to be expected. There wasn’t a lot of time to explain why the character lacks all ambition. There is good banter between Lynskey’s and Greer’s characters, which made the sequence of transforming the Hannah character all the more enjoyable, particularly the importance of excusing yourself from a room before farting. This was highly entertaining to watch, as Hannah never actually gets the hang of this ladylike trait.
While it ran long, I did enjoy the film and recommend it for your viewing pleasure. If you like films that are lighthearted and also somehow a bit raunchy, you’re sure to find something to enjoy with this film.