‘Lazy Susan’: Sean Hayes plays a sad woman who’s good for some smiles

Instead of being condescending about the Wisconsin characters and their mediocre lives, the comedy shows fondness for them.

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The title character of “Lazy Susan” (Sean Hayes) can’t hold down a job and figures she’ll die alone.

Shout! Studios

Folklore has it that Thomas Jefferson invented the rotating tabletop tray and named it “Lazy Susan” as it was to be used to serve his daughter Susan at the dinner table.

Yeah, probably not.

I bring this up only because I’ve wanted to tell that story about Thomas Jefferson, and the digital release of the charming offbeat comedy “Lazy Susan” seemed like the best opportunity. This movie is not about serving trays, it’s about one Susan O’Connell (played by Sean Hayes), a deeply unambitious, middle-aged, cisgender woman who can’t hold on to a job, is constantly hitting up her mother for cash and is sure she’ll never find love.

‘Lazy Susan’

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Shout! Studios presents a film directed by Nick Peet and written by Carrie Aizley, Sean Hayes and Darlene Hunt. No MPAA rating. Running time: 90 minutes. Available Friday on demand.

Oh, and she’s been bitter rivals with a Kmart assistant manager named Velvet (Allison Janney) ever since high school.

“They just made me Employee of the Month last week so I’m getting a lot of calls,” Susan lies to Velvet after being fired by a florist. “And I got a FIFTY-DOLLAR gift certificate.”

None of that’s true, but it’s a gauge of the true mediocrity of Susan’s life when even her boastful fibs sound kinda sad.

“Lazy Susan” is set in Wisconsin but we’re basically in Campville, USA, where the big box stores are regarded as high-end retail, everyone dresses like they’re extras in a 1985 music video and shag carpeting isn’t ironic. There’s always the danger of material like this veering into the mean-spirited and the condescending, but director Nick Peet and writers Carrie Aizley, Darlene Hunt and Hayes have a real fondness for these characters — even the ones who are big dumb jerks and behave terribly.

“Long story short,” says one character, only to be answered with “Short story long!” Goofy, but funny.

With tunes such as “Georgy Girl” by the Seekers and “Head Over Heels” by the Go-Go’s popping up on the soundtrack, Susan spends her days creating elaborate collages from ads and pictures in magazines; making half-hearted attempts to find work; hanging with her best friend Wendy (Carrie Aizley) and dropping in on her mother (Margo Martindale) — with those visits inevitably leading to Susan asking for money and Mom sighing and telling Susan to get her purse, it’s in the kitchen.

Ah, but Susan is suddenly walking on sunshine when she enters into a torrid romance with the owner of an indoor trampoline park (Jim Rash), who thinks her collages are amazing and buys her jewelry and treats her like a queen. Alas, bumps in the road lie ahead for Susan. Let’s just say she winds up on the local news, and not in a good way.

Sean Hayes is a droll delight as Susan, who uses cynicism and snappy put-downs as a defense mechanism but has a real heart. Allison Janney and Margo Martindale turn in their usual stellar work, and we even get a drop-in cameo by Matthew Broderick as the superintendent at the building where Susan lives.

If she can manage to make good on her overdue rent payments, that is.

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