Death at a Funeral (2007)(2007)
Matthew McFadyen (In My Father’s Den) plays Daniel, who’s returned home for the death of his father. As the most responsible member of a chaotic and dysfunctional family, he’s busy trying to keep it all together. Things start off badly when the wrong coffin arrives at the house, get worse when his successful but reckless novelist brother tells him he’s can’t help pay for the funeral, and slide even further downhill when his cousin’s new boyfriend accidentally takes some hallucinogens. When a mysterious dwarf takes Daniel aside at the funeral to reveal a secret affair with his dead father, things really being to plummet.
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BY Andrew Hedley Flicks Writer
On this outing, Oz has left America and traveled to his native England to create an old-fashioned British comedy that hearkens back to the days of Alec Guiness or Peter Sellers. A group of typical English stereotypes gather for a funeral in a large country home, and everything that could go wrong does. English mannerisms are exploited with much hilarity, using farce and slapstick to create a theatrical feel.
In fact, the film almost feels more suited to the theatre stage than the cinema screen and indeed benefits from such a concise setting. It’s an exercise in grouping a bunch of idiosyncratic characters and placing them in the pressure-cooker situation of a funeral. Things start to go wrong, and before long the events have spiraled out of all control. We have a fair idea of where things are going, but some great comic timing allows few jokes to fall flat.
Weaknesses are any attempts to create seriousness. Rupert Graves, as the novelist brother who jets in from New York, is weak. His smug character seems out of place and he never really fits smoothly into the madcap scenarios that play out. He’s not good as the funny man or the straight man and lets the team down.
The others are perfectly cast. Alan Tudyk plays an uptight solicitor who mistakenly takes strong hallucinogenic drugs thinking that they’re valium pills. The inevitable slapstick routine that results is very funny, mainly due to his ridiculous facial expressions.
Rather than inserting jokes into a full dramatic storyline, Death at a Funeral is crafted around the jokes. As a result it’s more consistently funny, if a little weightless. But it’s good to see a fun British comedy, and this one is a real crowd-pleaser.
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Death at a Funeral (2007)
In the end, it feels a bit like a movie length version of a Fawlty Towers episode, except with a plot that never really manages to be as... More elaborate or as engaging as you might expect. If you find the words Gay Dwarf to be automatically funny (He's gay! AND he's a dwarf! BWAHAHAH!), or if you think someone getting unintentionally high is pure hilarity (You should see his facial expressions! He's totally spaced out! HAHA! ...something David Schwimmer did this better in Friends, by the way), then you'll probably laugh a lot during this film. Frankly, I was surprised by how much the film relies on that well-worn "person accidentally gets high!" set-up, right down to the weak ending gag. In that and in other respects the film just lacked wit and freshness, always aiming for the obvious. In fact, not only was it not as clever as I wanted it to be, but it felt like it wasn't even as clever as *it* wanted to be. Disappointing.Hide
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