Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Death at a Funeral

Frank Oz, 2007 (8.3*)
It’s not every day that you laugh all through a film about a funeral. Writer Dean Craig has managed to do just that in this black comedy. It’s also not in any other cinema funerals that you see hallucinagenic drugs ingested (accidentally), a naked man threatening to jump off a roof, and a blackmailing dwarf giving everyone a thrill with an unexpected appearance.

These are just a few of the bizarre images and ideas that should at least have everyone chuckling. The film starts a bit slow, as at first you just have people on their way to the funeral of a well-to-do British family patriarch, father of a pair of brothers, played by Matthew Macfadyen, who lives at the house of his parents, and Rupert Graves, a famous novelist who lives in New York, flying in after years away from home. You see the normal rushing of people late, the grumbling by the elderly uncle in a wheelchair, “you’re late!” (wonderfully played by veteran actor Peter Vaughn, who was the head man in  Terry Gilliam's Brazil – “Ere I am JH”) and other family members in slight turmoil. However, this funeral has no one weeping or appearing that distressed, so in that regard it’s a realistic one.

However, once the funeral service begins at the house, one event after another delays the proceedings to the delight of the audience. One of my favorite side stories is the boyfriend of a relative who is accidently given some LSD instead of valium, as a pill bottle for the latter was used by a hippie brother for transporting the acid without notice. Alan Tudyk is perhaps a little over the top, but I have seen people on psychedelics act just this way at pop festivals; many inevitably end up naked, as does his character Simon.

Tiny actor Peter Dinklage (best known for The Station Agent) plays the dwarf who sets the brothers and the funeral on its ears with some startling photos, adding his own bizarre flavor to the unexpected plot turns. Jane Asher, former gf of Paul McCartney, plays the grieving widow, who is the only one shedding any tears for the deceased.

Remade by Neil LaBute as a black version (of course with Martin Lawrence, who gets to star in every film that Eddie Murphy is not in - and also Chris Rock), a unappealing version that got a 5.4 rating at IMDB vs. 7.3 for the original, and a 51 from Metacritics vs. 67 for the original. Not big numbers for the original either, but I think it’s a little better than that – it’s certainly an original comedy, and the best comedy about the way we treat death since The Loved One (1965), Tony Richardson’s b&w comedy of the Evelyn Waugh novel.

This won two audience awards, at the Locarno Int’l Film Festival and the U.S. Comedy Arts festival.


About Me

My photo
Artist, photographer, composer, author, blogger, metaphysician, herbalist

About This Blog

This is our new template: ProBlogger.

These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

Author at EZines

  © Blogger templates ProBlogger Template by 2008

Back to TOP