DEATH AT A FUNERAL (2007)
Starring Matthew Macfadyen, Peter Dinklage, Alan Tudyk, Ewen Bremner, Rupert Graves, Daisy Donovan, Kris Marshall, Andy Nyman, Jane Asher, Keeley Hawes and Peter Vaughan.
Screenplay by Dean Craig.
Directed by Frank Oz.
Distributed by Metro Goldwyn Mayer. 90 minutes. Rated R.
It was a bit of a surprise to find the quintessentially American director Frank Oz (who was the voice of Miss Piggy before helming such interesting comedies as Little Shop of Horrors, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Bowfinger and In and Out) at the helm of this very dark, very British farce.
Of course, he may simply be doing penance for his last film, the nearly unbearable 2005 remake of The Stepford Wives.
Yet, watching Death at a Funeral, you realize that it is actually a rather comfortable fit for Oz’s directing style. It is also a fine rebound from that last stinker. Death at a Funeral has its flaws, but in general it is an outrageous drawing room comedy in the tradition of Peter Sellers and Terry Thomas.
The film takes place in an old family manor in the English countryside, where the patriarch is being buried.
Now, this might seem an odd setting for a wild comic romp, but that is really the whole point. This upper-crust family is trying desperately to maintain order and a stiff upper lips as mayhem escalates around them.
This is a Brit comic staple that never quite loses its wit — the inability to show emotion and just let go. With drugs, blackmail, jealousy, sex, violence, secrets, homosexuality, anger and adultery all swirling around the proceedings, most of the fun is watching the family trying to pretend that none of these things are really happening.
Probably too many gags in Death at a Funeral don’t work to recommend it completely, but a high enough percentage do hit the mark, so it is definitely worth your time. You see many of the jokes coming, but that doesn’t stop the fact that at many points you will be unable to stifle the laughter.
More importantly, it’s good to see the old Frank Oz back.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2007 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: September 1, 2007.