If you’re a fan of stand-up comedy, then you’re going to want to give Manny Lewis a look-see. With Australian funnyman Carl Barron in the starring role, Manny Lewis is the fictional story of a stand-up comedian whose success is skyrocketing in his career, but taking a sharp, downward plunge in his personal life. With his inability to connect with women and his relationship with his father on the rocks, Manny Lewis is struggling to find much of the humour in his situation, and finds solace in long conversations with fantasy hotline worker, Caroline. That is, until he meets Maria (Leeanna Walsman), a woman who frequents one of Manny’s favourite cafes.
Maria is intelligent, shy, and beautiful without knowing it, and Manny finds himself drawn to her in a way he never seems to be with other women. But both Manny and Maria have a lot of baggage, with gloomy pasts and secrets that threaten to ruin the future of their relationship.
In essence, Manny Lewis is your everyday rom-com, complete with formulaic storylines and endings that you always see coming. There is a real simplicity to the plot that at times gets a little dull and often makes the movie feel like it’s moving at a snail’s pace, but there is a little twist of originality on this otherwise cliché film. The characters in this story feel so much more real than your average rom-com couple, with their own flaws and quirks and endearing stories, just like the rest of us. The stand-up humour scattered throughout the film is always welcome and almost unfailingly funny, and there is simply this ‘niceness’ surrounds this film, the kind that gives you hope that life isn’t all bad all the time.
Carl Barron brings wonderful comedic timing to the role of Manny Lewis, and shows a surprising amount of depth and emotion. While most of this emotion is expressed through longing, forlorn looks out of windows while audio of Manny’s stand-up rolls in the background (rather static scenes that don’t give the film a whole lot of punch), I do appreciate the fact that he isn’t your average choice of romantic hero. Leeanna Walsman exudes this understated beauty that the film really aims to highlight and Roy Billing is strong as always in the role of Manny’s father.
But as great and eccentric as these characters were, I still found myself wanting a little more in the story department. The plot follows a simple arch that would feel more at home in a children’s movie than this rather adult rom-com that deals with some relatively dark themes at times. It was just a little too nice and easy and simple, and I found myself wishing for a little more grit and complication, so the plot could feel equally as real as the characters.
While it might not be packed with much action or oomph, Manny Lewis is funny, easy-to-watch, and just the kind of no-glamour romance that we need to see more of.
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