Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Death at a Funeral

This is the latest British comedy from on-again off-again director Frank Oz. (Probably best known for the Muppets Take Manhattan). This is a superbly dark comedy poking fun at death like only the British can. This movie combines a huge cast, with topics that you really should not be laughing at, but you just can't help it.

Death at a Funeral isn't a terribly original movie. The funeral of the patriarch of a dysfunctional family brings a whole slew of relatives together. Daniel (Matthew MacFadyen) and Robert (Rupert Graves) are the man's sons. Martha's (Daisy Donovon) boyfriend, Simon (Alan Tudyk) mistakenly took LSD before the funeral provided by Troy (Kris Marshall). Meanwhile Howard (Andy Nyman) brings the incredibly profane and wheel chair bound Uncle Alfie (Peter Vaughan), and Justin (Ewen Bremmer) who's only there to hit on Martha. On top of all of this dysfunctionality, Peter (Peter Dinklage) has a secret about their deceased family member and is blackmailing Daniel to keep him silent.

One issue that I had with this movie was that it seemed to spread itself a bit too thin. I honestly had trouble following who all of the characters were. I'm still not sure what all the relations were. Each one of them brings a unique plot and conflict to the story, but there's still nothing very original. It's no different than any other movie that brings a group of people together under a common circumstance. Just imagine this as a British Big Chill without the music.

In general, this movie is very funny, and not terribly long- not more than an hour and a half. The cast acts out these incredibly awkward and hilarious situations with such deadpan seriousness that only the British can. It does occasionally dissolve into the predictable (a tipped over casket), and the low-brow (helping Uncle Alfie onto the toilette), and the just unreasonable (Simon naked for half the movie). These parts are are seldom, however, and generally fairly short.

There isn't anything new with this movie, it's simply a very well executed ensemble comedy. It's standard bill of fare from Frank Oz, on par with his previous movies (What About Bob?, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Bowfinger, etc.) It's not a brilliant movie, but worth a rental. It will provide a rather entertaining evening.

Watch the Trailer


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