DEATH AT A FUNERAL
Daniel (Matthew Macfadyen) is given the task of delivering the eulogy at his father's funeral, although his brother the famous author, Robert (Rupert Graves), who has just flown in from New York, might have been better equipped. There has always been tension between them, and now as the extended family gathers before the funeral, there are other family matters to deal with. Simon (Alan Tudyk), the would-be fiancé of Daniel's cousin Martha (Daisy Donovan) has accidentally taken some LSD, and elderly Uncle Alfie (Peter Vaughan) is demanding. But most disturbing of all is the presence of Peter (Peter Dinklage), a stranger who demands a large sum of money to keep hush about his homosexual affair with the deceased.
Review by Louise Keller:
A total misfire from director Frank Oz, whose endeavours to deliver black humour in the style of the classic English comedy wobbles fatally. With its excellent British cast, it's not all bad, but the plot is hackneyed, the tone is wrong, and what aspires to be funny leaves us embarrassed. The ultimate low-point is the scene when the wheel-chair bound elderly Uncle Alfie (Peter Vaughan) is in dire need of assistance to go to the toilet. Without going into too much sordid detail, let me simply say that Andy Nyman's hypochondriac Howard could not wash his hands or wipe his face quickly enough. Gross-out humour in the context of the elderly at a funeral is questionable in its taste, as is the casting of Peter Dinklage as the dead man's secret homosexual lover.
The film begins with the wrong body being delivered to the funeral service. There are domestic tensions, road rage and acid (LSD) tablets that are mistaken for valium. In the first instance when Alan Tudyk's uptight lawyer Simon is erroneously given the hallucinogen, there lies the promise of a hilarious situation. But it is milked to such an extent (when the tablets are given to other characters, in greater quantities), that it becomes boringly repetitive. The subplot that works best is the one that involves the sibling rivalry of Matthew MacFadyen's insecure, aspiring novelist Daniel and his screen brother Robert, a successful, snobbish New York author (Rupert Graves). Their anguish and resentment is real, as a centrepiece to the bizarre, farcical situations that orbit around them.
Dean Craig's screenplay tries far too hard to milk the laughs, despite the cast playing it deadly straight. 'Grief does strange things to people,' we are told, as naked men teeter on the rooftops, an ex-lover pleads for affection and a body cries out for tactful disposal. It just goes to show that while laughter may be the best medicine, it is not easy to dish out.
Email this article
DEATH AT A FUNERAL (M)
CAST: Matthew MacFadyen, Rupert Graves, Alan Tudyk, Peter Dinklage, Keeley Hawes, Andy Nyman, Ewen Bremner, Daisy Donovan, Jane Asher, Kris Marshall, Peter Vaughan,
PRODUCER: Sidney Kimmel, Laurence Malkin, Diana Phillips, Share Stallings
DIRECTOR: Frank Oz
SCRIPT: Dean Craig
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Oliver Curtis
EDITOR: Beverly Mills
MUSIC: Murray Gold
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Michael Howells
RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Icon
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 11, 2007