Pros:Some amusing dynamics and scenarios
Cons:Unimaginitve and slow at times
The Bottom Line: Death at a Funeral is a good choice for anyone enjoying a British comedy farce. It's unoriginal at times, but is a good laugh once it gets going.
Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot.
Recommend this product?
Death at a Funeral (2007)
Directed by: Frank Oz
Written by: Dean Craig
Starring: Matthew MacFadyen, Rupert Graves, Peter Dinklage, Alan Tudyk
“Death at a Funeral” is a British comedy farce, directed by Frank Oz. Oz is best known as the voices of the Muppets, Sesame Street and Yoda, but has directed a number of well known movies including, “The Dark Crystal,” “Little Shop of Horrors,” “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” “In & Out,” and “Bowfinger.”
Written by Dean Craig, “Death at a Funeral” works on the simple premise that if something could go wrong, it probably belongs in the screenplay. And what better occasion to bring together a group of dysfunctional upper-class family misfits than a funeral? With an almost all British cast, the service is taking place at an English countryside estate home.
When the funeral directors show up with the wrong corpse, it’s a bad omen and just the start of things. There are bouts of family rivalries, accidentally consumed hallucinogenics, a foul mouthed wheelchair confined uncle, blackmail, and a strange dwarf who nobody knows paying his final respects.
Some of the jokes are a little contrived and formulaic. During the first half hour I was a little disappointed by the lack of pace, and the fact that the LSD and the strange dwarf (Peter Dinklage) were the best jokes they could think of. However, the strained character dynamics do lead to an especially entertaining second half. The key one among these is that of the two sons of the deceased. Daniel (Matthew MacFadyen) plays the caring responsible brother who along with his wife continued to live at the family home and care for his father. Robert (Rupert Graves) is the more successful one, who took off to America years ago and became a best-selling author. The brotherly relationship is on a rough path from the start when we learn that Robert blew all his money on a first-class plane ticket back and is leaving Daniel to foot the funeral bill.
The dwarf has a major secret regarding dad, and that becomes one of the major plotlines. I won’t spoil it because it plays out in amusing spoof Hitchcock style. But the funniest element is that of the soon-to-be family member who makes a spectacle of himself after getting a hold of one of cousin pharmacists mislabeled prescriptions. At first it doesn’t look like too original of an angle, livening up a funeral with a bottle of LSD, but it becomes hilarious. The main reason for that is the way Alan Tudyk plays it. From the early images of being spooked and disoriented, even freaking everyone else out when he visions movements in the coffin, to finding himself naked on the roof, Tudyk is a highly welcome addition to the somber funeral tone.
Fans of British comedy should find this somewhat enjoyable. It does play out a little slow at times but once you give it a chance it does become entertaining and highly amusing stuff. It’s kind of like a movie version of a “Fawlty Towers” episode and I could just picture John Cleese running from room to room frantically trying to hold all the pieces together. Perhaps Cary Grant in “Arsenic and Old Lace” would be a better comparison for American viewers. There’s nothing much to say about the production here, as the setting is predominantly that of a stage play, but the performances of a little known cast are all top notch. Alan Tudyk is fantastic, while Matthew MacFadyen does a good job of being the pushover trying to coordinate things.
Verdict: 3 ½ Stars Recommended
Viewing Format: DVD
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older