MANNY LEWIS | REVIEW

MANNY LEWIS is an Australian comedy drama picked up by most Australian cinema chains, this is nearly unheard of and a nice coup for star and writer Carl Barron, plus distributor StudioCanal Australia. Considering the distributor is StudioCanal, who are affiliated with Hoyts, it was impressive to see the distribution spread and also previews all being held at Event Cinemas. This leads me to believe this is an Australian movie worthy of seeing but screw my thoughts, while I was being disappointed in CHAPPIE in the next cinema Kernel Blake was being bombarded by the CHAPPIE soundtrack through the walls in MANNY LEWIS – enjoy his thoughts below. MANNY LEWIS is out tomorrow, Thursday 12/3/15 in Australia, it is rated M and runs for 89mins. All the best………..JK.

 

MANNY LEWIS MOVIE POSTER IMAGE
MANNY LEWIS | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | MOVIE POSTER IMAGE

 

BY BLAKE CURRALL

How do you make a living making people laugh when you don’t particularly like being around them? This is the question posed by Australian standup comedian, Carl Barron in his feature-film acting & writing debut, MANNY LEWIS. Barron, plays the titular character, a successful Australian standup comedian coming off a successful national tour and about to hit the big time with a massive deal to do a US tour, not much of a stretch.

The problem is, Manny just really doesn’t like people and has a hard time interacting with them, especially those of the opposite sex, hilariously and uncomfortably proven in a speed dating style montage at an after show party. These CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM-style, cringeworthy scenes are what we’ve come to expect from Barron and his humour, putting him in awkward situations for hilarious results.

Where Barron excels with his script, is when the story flips on its head, showing the often unseen struggle that those with a life in the spotlight deal with on a day to day basis. The detachment from a social scene, depression and unhappiness that can’t help but be compared to recent events with the tragic circumstances surrounding Robin Williams. This look behind the curtain is an unexpected and emotional punch that really moves this film away from the genre cliches and Barron shows real depth in these introspective scenes from within his multimillion dollar apartment overlooking the Sydney skyline.

 

MANNY LEWIS MOVIE IMAGE
MANNY LEWIS | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | MANNY LEWIS (CARL BARRON) PLAYS A GUITAR ON STAGE

 

It is during these sombre moments that, using a another persona, Manny finds his outlet, a late night call to a phone-sex line where he meets an unlikely confidant in the form of sexual velvet voiced “Caroline” (Leanna Walsmann, WENTWORTH). With someone to speak to without any consequences and the push of his manager and father to finally style down and take the plunge to find a woman, Manny slowly begins to branch out and in doing so, meets café bookworm, Maria who he hit it off with and manages to score a phone number.

Of course, in situations like this, there must be some kind of conflict and in this case, Maria is actually, unbeknownst to Manny, Caroline, his late night confidant. On the flip side, Manny’s real identity is unknown to Maria and a relationship starts to form with the help of a surly Croatian barman and the sultry moves of the salsa. Through this budding relationship, Manny even begins to reconnect to his distant father and try to get past their dark past.

With things seemingly going well for the pair, a potential Brazilian cruise as well as Manny’s upcoming tour of the USA threaten to test the strength of this Union and possibly send Manny back into his shell, albeit, one that is an incredible apartment with one of the greatest views in the world. Even though Manny seems to be changing his wayside falling for his new girl, he can only open up and find comfort discussing his life and new relationship with “Caroline” on the sex line, clueless that they are in fact one and the same.

 

MANNY LEWIS MOVIE IMAGE
MANNY LEWIS | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | MANNY LEWIS (CARL BARRON) WITH TWO OLD DUDES IN A BAR

 

Using this backhand knowledge of the workings of Manny’s mind, Maria uses it to her advantage to know what Manny likes and dislikes about the relationship to keep it moving forward. But when true identities and secrets are revealed, the proverbial hits the fan, sending Manny spiraling out of control on the eve of his big live standup event that could make or break his future.

Although the film falls into romcom clichés towards the end, Barron has crafted a story and characters that the viewer can really connect with and are just genuinely likeable. A special mention must go to the director and cinematographer for bringing Sydney to life with some amazing shots around the city and somehow making Kings Cross look like an appealing place to spend time, instead of the miserable crack-hole it can be.

At times depressing, touching and emotional, there is enough of the Barron humour fans have come to expect from the comic, mixed in to balance out the surprising depth and dark periods of the script. For a first up effort, Barron has produced a great story with real heart, humour and diverse characters. Not a bad first up crack at the big screen for the lovable Aussie larrakin.

 

3 Pops