I watched every episode of Project Greenlight and was really rooting for the chosen director, Jason Mann, to pull his movie off, despite the drama and heartache. Unfortunately, this film was not the success I hoped it would be.
The Leisure Class, in theory, is an interesting concept: an English con man is all set to marry into a wealthy, politically connected American family, but his loose-canon brother shows up and ruins everything. To me, this is a pretty decent outline for comedic gold – even for a dark comedy like this film aimed to be.
Overall, I found this film to be a 90-minute song made up of one, singular note. A flat note, at that.
I never felt a connection with William (Ed Weeks) or his fiance, Fiona (Bridget Regan), so I really didn’t care if their wedding went to chaos, which was sort of the driving force of the film. I don’t blame the actors for this, however: I think the writing was lacking in a lot of ways, which makes sense after seeing how rushed Jason Mann and season 1 Project Greenlight winner Pete Jones were to finish the script before shooting. The climax of the story happened so quickly, we couldn’t create emotion towards the characters and enjoy the build up of events.
The acting was decent at best for what the script allowed. Ed Weeks (The Mindy Project) nailed the exhausted “Here we go again!” attitude of William, but it seemed to be the only emotion the character was capable of. Starring opposite Weeks was Tom Bell, who starred in the short film this was adapted from. Bell was really, really good at playing the screw-up brother to William, Leonard. He made me feel anxious and stressed the entire time he was on screen – for better or for worse. Most of the time it worked, but after 30 minutes I was over the back-and-forth between William and Leonard as it became muddled and hard to understand.
We were constantly thrown these little nuggets of story before they were left alone so long they just dissolved or sank to the bottom. It seemed Carolyn (Melanie Zanetti) and Leonard were going to hook up, but then he brought home a random hooker. What was the point of that abrupt story line? What happened to the man in the car wreck? What was Edward whispering to him? How did Edward and William meet in the first place? Who was Carla (Christine Lakin) and why was she there? Despite the brief mention of her being a reasonably-priced prostitute, she seemed to have a history with Leonard but it was never clear what sort of history, since Leonard had supposedly just arrived from the U.K. What was the history between Charlotte (Brenda Strong) and Edward (Bruce Davison)? We know she wanted to leave him, it was clear he was maniac but there wasn’t really any explanation as to why he was such a nutcase. Perhaps it was his political career that drove him to his madness? Why wouldn’t Carolyn come out of her room for the rehearsal dinner?
During the course of Project Greenlight, Jason was so concerned with shooting on film, it hindered the final product. After all the fuss about shooting on film, Jason was given an extra $300,000, with the choice to spend it on either shoot film or take two additional shooting days. When he chose film, I knew the final product was doomed. The average viewer, like me, doesn’t know the visual difference between digital and film, however, we do know a quality film when we see one, which, unfortunately, this was not.
I sincerely hope they continue Project Greenlight as a TV show, despite the failure of this season’s product.
Catch The Leisure Class on On Demand.