Death at a Funeral

Death at a Funeral

1.5 out of 51.5 out of 51.5 out of 51.5 out of 5 1.5

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Frank Oz transplants his sitcom sensibilities to the UK drawing-room comedy with Death at a Funeral, a strained farce in which lots of one-dimensional Brits converge at the memorial service for their family’s patriarch and proceed to act like buffoons. Ludicrousness is the main course served, though without a single gag that isn’t tediously announced in advance, the aftertaste left by this series of absurd, interlocking mini-dramas is patently sour. Daddy issues, rebuffed romantic desires, and sibling jealousy all bubble to the surface during the somber event, yet the primary factor in turning the occasion downright chaotic is Peter (Peter Dinklage), a mystery man who shows up to blackmail dutiful Daniel (Matthew Macfadyen) and his celebrity novelist brother Robert (Rupert Graves) with a supposed bombshell: that he and their deceased father were lovers. British accents and an ivy-covered country home setting can’t obscure the fact that the ensuing lewd madness is of a Three’s Company variety. Murder eventually enters the equation but the quandaries it poses are as toothless and lethargic as the ongoing dilemma of Simon (Alan Tudyk), whose attempt to impress the disapproving father of his soon-to-be-wife Martha (Daisy Donovan) is complicated by his accidental ingestion of a hallucinogenic drug. The pill that Simon swallows causes him to giggle and drool like a simpleminded child, imagine that the coffin is moving, and climb onto the roof in his birthday suit and threaten suicide, all behavior so excessively clownish that it calls into serious doubt whether anyone involved with the production has ever actually consumed mind-altering substances. Death at a Funeral’s unfamiliarity with the way real-world narcotics work, however, is in step with its ignorance regarding how comedies-of-manners are supposed to operate. Lavishing unequal treatment on its storylines and failing to produce any witty banter or build any proper momentum for its signature centerpieces (one of which involves an old man’s feces winding up in another man’s mouth), the film dishes out only lifeless zaniness, its humor ultimately, uncomfortably situated between Oscar Wilde and Benny Hill.

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DVD
Distributor
MGM
Runtime
90 min
Rating
R
Year
2006
Director
Frank Oz
Screenwriter
Dean Craig
Cast
Matthew Macfadyen, Peter Dinklage, Alan Tudyk, Ewen Bremner, Rupert Graves, Daisy Donovan, Kris Marshall, Andy Nyman, Jane Asher, Keeley Hawes, Peter Vaughan