The titular character in Lazy Susan (Sean Hayes) puts a VHS tape on her player. That tape plays footage of her younger self, spouting facts as her mother Mary (Margo Martindale) cheers her on. Her dad also encourages this intelligent side of her. These two versions of Susan seem so different. The younger one had so much potential while the older one has no job and constantly receives warnings from her landlord Doug (Matthew Broderick) to pay up. The only thing she has going for her are her collages, which she doesn’t monetize. Some audiences can relate to this, but it still seems miserable in a comedy with its main concept being about a cis man dressing up and playing a female character.
As Lazy Susan continues, it seems to lean on that gender swap as the only thing that’s making it funny, but there’s ninety or less minutes of it. The movie thinks most people have those minutes to waste and they’re somewhat right. It then shows her mistreating her neighbors, pretending that she’s busy, which makes no sense because she has no job. That’s it, that’s the joke. Simplicity apparently works for some people. Maybe it’s not as simple as it looks, since she doesn’t seem like a passive character. Movies about losers usually are about other characters sandbagging the protagonist. Brushing people aside is her active rebellion. Besides, she has friends coming over, and that friend Phil (Jim Rash) becomes a lover.
Lazy Susan’s premises, other than the gender swap, don’t work. Hayes writing and playing a female character suspends disbelief but it isn’t funny. Aspects of Susan’s life feel inconsequential. Other than her financial and romantic life, she also has a best friend who in one scenes wears a bra. Their friendship does benefit Susan, since the friend signed them up to perform at a local talent show and maybe earn enough money so that Susan can pay rent. Her lack of costume seems to be a punchline of how exasperated she is as a mother or how awkward it is to look at a woman her age wearing a bra. But it’s not funny – it verges on ageism and sexism.
Hayes also tries to make faces, a technique that has never made me laugh. As a writer, he does pay attention to details, like a permit allowing Susan to use accessible parking, even when her body has typical abilities. But this detail just makes me hate Susan more and not in an enjoyable way. And Hayes seems more like a micro writer than a macro one, since he relies on one plot twist. That twist, by the way, is that Phil, who looks like a two timing sleaze, ends up being one. His growing success, in comparison to her static life, ends up putting Susan in a downward spiral. Hayes thinks there’s comedy in misery and boy is he wrong.
Lazy Susan is available on demand.
- Rated: NR
- Genre: Comedy
- Release Date: 4/3/2020
- Directed by: Nick Peet
- Starring: Matthew Broderick, Sean Hayes
- Produced by: Shane O'Brien, Zach O'Brien
- Written by: Darlene Hunt, Sean Hayes
- Studio: Hazy Mills Productions, Stargazer Films USA
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