Death at a Funeral
With a title like Death at a Funeral, you'd certainly hope this is a comedy, and it is. A dark little comedy with only a pinch of respect left for the deceased. From the very outset when the funeral home delivers the wrong body, you know what to expect from this film. It exploits the formalities and the things people do or don't do at funerals out of confusion, grief or respect.
Throwing into the mix, rivalry of the siblings, politics of the extended family, a one night stand, an old uncle on a wheelchair, a bunch of hallucinogenic drugs and a dark secret of the deceased and you're surely onto a winner, right? Well, sort of.
It has good writing by Dean Craig, the structure and all the components do fit together tightly, there's no complaining there, however it lacks a certain freshness and feels like a path we've walked before. I assume there is little you can do to make fun of a funeral that hasn't been seen and done before.
The main strength of he film is its witty dialogue, followed by its performances. Though primarily it is about the two sons of the deceased, Daniel (Matthew MacFadyen) and celebrity novelist Robert (Rupert Graves), the focus does deviate frequently to the multiple subplots. In line with the mayhem that the film sets out to achieve, this works a charm. All the cast gets ample scope to add their contribution of madness to the pot.
This is also its weakness though, as it feels on the verge of being a bit 'too' much. The mayhem seems too perfect. Everyone is at the right place at the right time to add their witty dialogue or action to chuck in that extra joke. It seems as though they aimed to do to Funerals what Airplane did to films about plane journeys, but unfortunately this is not achieved.
I cant think of that many films that play with the comic aspect around funerals, but Wedding Crashers and Four Weddings and a Funeral spring to mind. There is also the TV series Six Feet Under, which added a further depth by having the dead communicating selectively with the living.
Back to the film, quite predictably, the mayhem eventually boils over and brings us to a climax where the issues that have been brought to our attention are either resolved or set in motion to be resolved. At the risk of sounding repetitive, it all seems quite clinical, adding randomness to this mix and not tying up everything so neatly only would have added to the viewing pleasure.
All said and done, though nothing ground-breaking, it is an enjoyable little caper, it does what it says on the tin, it entertains. With multiple laugh out loud cracks seeded into a compost of smirk worthy moments to take away, it's worth a watch if you fancy something short and sweet, to kill a couple of hours.
[Note that the film comes from Director Frank Oz - Richard]