DEATH AT A FUNERAL
MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5)
Matthew MacFadyen as DANIEL
Keeley Hawes as JANE
Andy Nyman as HOWARD
Ewen Bremner as JUSTIN
Daisy Donovan as MARTHA
Alan Tudyk as SIMON SMITH
Peter Dinklage as PETER
Directed by: Frank Oz
BY KEVIN CARR
Over the years, director Frank Oz has blown hot and cold. Some of his movies have been absolute brilliance. For example, one of my favorites is his musical adaptation of “Little Shop of Horrors” in 1986. Even later in his career, films like “Bowfinger” have been great.
However, some films have really stunk. “In and Out” was convoluted and silly, and “The Stepford Wives” was an absolute mess. However, with “Death at a Funeral,” he has come a long way to redeem himself as a comedy director.
With “Death at a Funeral,” Oz goes back to the well and taps into British humor, which has been so influential over the years for him, going back to “The Muppet Show” in the 70s. In this film, we follow a group of highly dysfunctional people attending the funeral of their patriarch. Of course, things go badly for a few and worse for others.
One son is struggling with the eulogy while the other (more successful) one is flying in from the states. A son-in-law, played expertly by Alan Tudyk, is accidentally on drugs, while the rest of the family spits venom at each other. Things turn ridiculous when Peter Dinklage shows up with a blackmail plot.
If you don’t like British comedy, you probably should stay away from this movie. However, if you can connect with this type of humor, it can be a lot of fun. The film falls in the realm of a screwball comedy, but it has an off-center approach that is a bit different than your standard American faire. I can’t exactly call it high-brow because the movie takes some low hits, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Male nudity and poo jokes work fine in an art-house flick too.
The DVD comes with two commentaries, one with Frank Oz and the other with writer Dean Craig and actors Alan Tudyk and Andy Nyman. The only other feature is limited to a gag reel. However, the real laughs are in the film itself rather than the extras menu.