Thursday, September 16, 2021

Lady of the Manor

Lady Wadsworth is not nearly as fun as the freewheeling married couple that haunted Cosmo Topper, but she is more progressive than the sea captain haunting Mrs. Muir. That is actually something, considering she lived and died in late 1800’s Savannah. Her home is now literally a museum that she expects to be kept just so. She therefore haunts the new slacking stoner tour guide pretty hard, until they develop an unlikely friendship in director-screenwriter-brothers Justin & Christian Long’s Lady of the Manor, which releases tomorrow in theaters and on-demand.

Wadsworth Manor is still a source of pride and revenue for Savannah Mayoral candidate Grayson Wadsworth, but his entitled son Tanner is not. To finally start pulling his weight, Tanner must assume management of the Manor business during the campaign. Unfortunately, that leads him to fire the current costumed tour guide when she turns down his advances. Needing a quick replacement, he hires Hannah Daniels, who just happened to be boozing on the barstool next to him.

Initially, Daniels makes it clear any advances Tanner might make will be completely welcome. However, she also starts to feel some attraction to Maxwell Plumm, the local college professor, who mercifully agrees not to call her on the liberties she takes with history. Unfortunately, the ghost of Lady Wadsworth is not so indulgent when it comes to Hannah’s messy housekeeping and hard-partying lifestyle.

is an ultra-lightweight comedy, but it is still amusing. Judy Greer is perfectly cast as the prim and proper ghost, whom the film contrives ways to make sympathetic to modern viewers. Even though her character is often annoying as heck, Melanie Lynskey still gets a lot of big laughs as Daniels. She also has decent chemistry with Justin Long as the otherwise too-bland Prof. Plumm (yes, they make that joke).

However, Ryan Philippe is a good sport chewing the scenery and acting shamelessly caddish as slimy Tanner Wadsworth. Surprisingly, Patrick Duffy, the “Man from Atlantis,” gets several laughs as distinguished Grayson Wadsworth, but the great Luis Guzman is grossly under-utilized (and looks visibly bored) as Daniels’ regular bartender.

The Longs maintain a pretty consistent level of comedy and sometimes take it to some pretty rude places, without ever seriously transgressing boundaries of good taste. It is a fun distraction that is much more concerned with its slacker empowerment than the uncanny in’s-and-out’s of its supernatural premise. Recommended as a brisk ghost comedy,
Lady of the Manor releases tomorrow (9/17) in theaters and on VOD.