Synopsis: Brainchild of Australia’s favourite comedian, Carl Barron, MANNY LEWIS follows the story of a stand-up comedian who, at the peak of his career, finds something is missing in his life. Carl Barron’s acting debut in a feel-good quest for love is both humorous and charming.
Director: Anthony Mir
Starring: Carl Barron, Leeanna Walsman
Release Date: 12th March 2015
Sweet in nature but cheesy in its execution, Manny Lewis is a romantic comedy about an Australian comedian who begins dating a woman he met in a coffee shop but unbeknownst to him, she just happens to be the operator from a Fantasy Hotline he calls. Manny Lewis features renowned Australian comedian Carl Barron in his first ever acting role as the eponymous Manny Lewis. Barron also wrote the film with director Anthony Mir.
How much of this is based on Barron’s real life in uncertain, but one can imagine that he borrowed a significant amount in order to depict the isolation and loneliness felt by those in the spotlight. For a first acting role, Barron does surprisingly well throughout the majority of the film though he is seemingly uncomfortable and unsteady in some scenes. His self-deprecating, deadpan and sometimes seemingly depressed character comes off as somewhat likeable through the film. He has a large, luxurious apartment overlooking the city and the Sydney Harbour which feels rather self-indulgent and distances him from the audience.
Leeanna Walsman plays Maria, the Fantasy Hotline operator and love interest of Manny. She’s a great actress, but her character doesn’t feel fleshed out enough therefore coming across as one-dimensional and flat at times. Roy Billing and Damien Garvey do well in their roles as supporting characters, Manny’s father and his manager, respectively, though the relationship between Manny and his father needed much more depth.
The film has several funny moments and jokes that get the audience laughing but it ultimately does succumb to a lower, cheesier level which is more cringe-worthy than aww-worthy.
A cinematic release feels risky for this film as its furnishings and anamorphic cinematography suggest a relatively decent budget for an Australian romantic-comedy.
It’s a sweet film but it ultimately won’t change or impact much on the landscape of domestic cinema.
Carl Barron is as Aussie as you can get, and his years of stand-up comedy based on observational humour has set him up nicely for his big screen debut. One of the great things about Barron is how relatable he is, and this characteristic shines through in his portrayal of a depressed, romantic Aussie comedian Manny Lewis.
I think one of the main questions people will ask of this movie is- Is Carl any good as an actor? Actually, yes for a first timer. It helps that his character is quite similar to what we see of him as a comedian, though in some of the more serious scenes I found him hard to believe. That’s okay though because you have to take this movie for what it is, a rom-com. Opposing Barron is Leeanna Walsman as love interest Maria, and she is the only weak link of this movie, falling flat at times- however a likable thing about their relationship is its clumsy awkwardness which is quite adorable.
All-in-all the movie is funny and sweet, the ending is predictable and cheesy but it has the standard Carl Barron jokes that we know and love and I was laughing through a lot of it. It’s the kind of movie you’d watch on a Friday night in with your parents.