Despite A Stellar Cast, This Dark Comedy Flops Hard

Jan 18, 2023

Home Movie Reviews The Estate Review: Despite A Stellar Cast, This Dark Comedy Flops Hard

The Estate had the perfect setup for a great comedy featuring an all-star ensemble of actors adept at humor, but it fails to meet the bare minimum.

Anna Faris, Toni Collette, and David Duchovny in The Estate

The Estate is a dark comedy starring Toni Collette and Anna Faris as down-on-their-luck sisters seeking to benefit from a wealthy aunt’s will. This premise is enough to garner some attention, even more with Death at a Funeral screenwriter Dean Craig, who also serves as The Estate’s director, attached. However, this is a terribly unfunny venture, which fails ast the film’s only job.

The Estate follows Macey (Collette) and Savanna (Faris), two sisters struggling with financial issues, among other things. They intend to fight for their family restaurant, but money is hard to come by — until their Aunt Hilda (Kathleen Turner) becomes the cash cow they desperately need to drain dry. As their scheme unfolds, the sisters encounter more opportunistic family members. Macey and Savanna try to ingratiate themselves with Hilda and learn that their troubles could be solved if Hilda lived out a long-held fantasy. With that being the basis of the film, hilarity is bound to ensue, but it unfortunately does not, dear reader.
Related: Anna Faris & Toni Collette Interview: The Estate

Toni Collette, Kathleen Turner, and Anna Faris in The Estate

Colette and Faris are no strangers to comedy, but Faris is more susceptible to starring in comedic misfires. While the actresses do a lot to make The Estate work, they cannot overcome a heavily unamusing script. There is a sense that this is supposed to be an edgy dark comedy, but it lacks the ingenuity to be anything other than predictable and lazy. Aside from the leads, there is very little to be said of the film’s supporting actors, including David Duchovny and Rosemarie DeWitt, because they are not utilized appropriately.

The overall casting exemplifies how hollow the writing is for the characters and how little is done to craft a dynamic ensemble. Collette has long been a fantastic supporting player, and perhaps she would have been better as a wily side character and not the lead who wrestles with the moral dilemma facing the sisters. On the other hand, Kathleen Turner, and her iconic gravelly voice, are wasted. She is a woman who does not need much to earn roaring laughter, but somehow she is left floundering. It is impossible to underscore how poorly these actresses are employed throughout this so-called comedy.

Anna Faris, Toni Collette, and Keyla Monterroso Mejia in The Estate

A successful film about family dynamics can be achieved through several tactics, but the main one is creating interesting characters. Despite how little time they have onscreen or what their first impression is, there needs to be an understanding that if the layers are pulled back, there is something of substance underneath. The Estate’s ensemble does not have that. There is also the utter lack of likable characters that does The Estate in. There is no one to root for or even like enough to tolerate their onscreen presence. There is very little drawing the audience in, and the reason begins with the weak script.

Ultimately, The Estate cannot capture the chaotic nature of family greed. It is especially noticeable as there is no shortage of ensemble films that feature similar premises about gaining wealth by competing with family. Craig clearly enjoys writing characters who are needlessly cruel or simply lack self-awareness, but his ideas never fully form into anything more. There is also the displeasure of a poorly made film with lackluster lighting, coloring, and production design that leaves much to be desired.The Estate had the perfect setup for a great comedy featuring an all-star ensemble of actors adept at humor. While The Estate has the right instincts to get the right result, it fails to meet the bare minimum.

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The Estate released in theaters and on VOD Friday, November 4. The film is 96 minutes long and rated R for pervasive language, crude/sexual material, graphic nudity, and brief drug use.

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