Unlike FOX’s brilliant Arrested Development, Eulogy‘s spectacle of nastiness doesn’t indicate a family’s greater, largely unspoken love for one another. Even when they’re kind to each other, the Bluth family from Ron Howard’s exec produced sitcom still refuses to play nice. The Bluth children are slaves to their dysfunctional upbringing, but love is clearly coded into their sarcasm. In essence: Their love is consistent with their hate. This complexity of emotion and behavior isn’t evidenced throughout Michael Clancy’s Eulogy, which betrays itself by resorting to cheap sentiment by film’s end. Sitting across the table from an about-to-be-distressed older woman, Kate Collins (Zooey Deschanel) promises to tell a doozy of a story. “All of my life my grandfather said never to pick up the phone on the first ring…and now he was dead,” begins the young woman before describing the days leading up to her grandfather’s funeral when her immediate family comes together at her grandmother’s home. In the tradition of monstrosities like Home for the Holidays and Greedy, Eulogy confuses mean-spiritedness for signs of intelligent life. George S. Clinton’s schmaltzy score is scarcely subversive, and as such belies the film’s nasty streak. Gathered around the dinner table, Mom (Piper Laurie) forces her favorite son (Hank Azaria) to speak the one-liner from his famous peanut butter commercial. When the hip dyke played by Kelly Preston announces her plans to marry her lover (Famke Janssen), her sister (Debra Winger) kills the mood with anti-gay nastiness. Everything is played for laughs, and some of it might actually be funny if it didn’t sound so outmoded. Some of the film’s random bits are amusing (Azaria’s evil twins attempt to move food products across a kitchen using only their eyes and feet), but most of the gags are less left-of-center than just plain square. Indeed, I demand an instant moratorium on films featuring moms and dads rolling doobies.
- Michael Clancy
- Michael Clancy
- Hank Azaria, Zooey Deschanel, Famke Janssen, Piper Laurie, Kelly Preston, Ray Romano, Debra Winger, Rip Torn
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