The British Comedy Connosieurs
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Death at a Funeral

2007 British comedy directed by Frank Oz.

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The funniest funeral I've been to.

  • Jan 17, 2011
Rating:
+4
***1/2 out of ****

I'm not one for lists. Rounding up films and placing them on a "Top Ten" or "Top 5" list is just too much for me. I decidedly don't make lists often, and prefer to merely assign films to my "Favorites" or "Genre Favorites". While watching "Death at a Funeral", the hilarious Frank Oz-directed British funeral satire, I sort of did this. I plan to regard Oz's film as one of the best comedies of the 2000's. It's smart, hilarious, ironic, and also quite honest. Aside from being consistently hilarious, "Death at a Funeral" is also sort of touching. It's a film about the importance of family and how we can tear each other apart as well as help each other at times. Yes, many comedies do this. Many comedies try to have a soft side, but Frank Oz's latest is the most (recently) successful one at doing so. The genius of the film is that it's a nice blend of pure satire, pure wit, pure slapstick, and often times pure silliness. I think the best you can do is sit back, perhaps with more than one person, and just watch the darned thing. It's a film that I could recommend to just about anyone; especially those who remember the Funeral experience. I know that at first, I did not appreciate "Death at a Funeral" as much as I should have, and it's only now that I realize just how much I love it. There's comedic genius to be found here, and it's the kind that I simply wish we got more of these days. And of course the entire cast is British, those crafty, funny-as-hell bastards. Since it's so doggone funny, "Death for a Funeral" makes up for nearly all of its flaws. Sure, it doesn't have an extremely amazing story going on, but as a comedy that doesn't even try to have on, it doesn't need any of the like. I think that it does just about everything that it could do; and on miraculously new levels of fun. It's a well-acted ensemble comedy with some of the most memorably funny moments and gags that I've seen in a long, long time. There's a lot to look at here, and it makes me consider that maybe, just maybe, comedy films can be art too. There is craft in comedy, but there's also craft in filmmaking. Frank Oz's "Death at a Funeral" combines both into a truly hilarious, uproariously amusing British farce. There's some real funny stuff to be found here, and it's nothing more or less than one of the finest comedies of the 2000's, as well as one of the best films of 2007. You won't want to miss it.

For a comedy, the story being told in "Death at a Funeral" is surprisingly less sluggish than it probably should be. I think it's not so much the telling of the story that matters; but rather the characters and memorable gags that run throughout the film's 90 Minute running time. "Death at a Funeral" of course takes place during the time of a funeral. The funeral is for the father of two boys; Robert and Daniel. Robert has grown up to be a successful writer while Daniel is suffering from writer's block and thus isn't doing too much to give his boring life the extra boost. But they'll have to put their differences and past aside to cooperate at this particular funeral, although they soon learn that chaos is always around the corner. "Death at a Funeral" exists to show just how much can go wrong at a funeral; thus it is a satire. If you've been to a funeral, then you'll probably relate to Oz's film on some level. Most of the characters are endearing and most of the gags revolve around each individual. For instance, one of the characters mistook a bottle of high-powered acid pills for a bottle of valium. The acid makes his hallucinate. This is surprisingly hilarious whenever a new sort of hallucination comes up. It finally pushes him too far and he considers taking dangerous risks while under the influence. Even though it's funny, we can feel his pain (at least somewhat). But this film is not about feeling for the characters. It's about laughing while their exploits unfold, and being grateful for the fact that our families aren't this dysfunctional. The film goes by pretty fast because it's consistently amusing and freaking hilarious. I loved watching it; and I love thinking about it. I think the more I see it, the more I appreciate it. "Death at a Funeral" took me three watches for me to feel like reviewing it and seeing it for the hilarious film that it is. I'm glad that Oz is genuinely good as assembling a good comedy with quirky characters and a mix of screw-ball humor and crazy-as-hell antics. It's as fun and hilarious as I wanted it to be. And that's what I loved about it.

Matthew Macfadyen leads the cast as the somewhat timid first son of the deceased. The other son is played by Rupert Graves, who I know from "V for Vendetta". The friends of the deceased are played by Andy Nyman (Howard), Ewen Bremner (Justin), and Kris Marshall (Troy). One other acquaintance of the deceased is Peter, played by Peter Dinklage. May I be one to say that I absolutely loved Dinklage in this film. He was an absolute hoot whenever he was on. Sometimes, it might have been charm that did the trick rather than humor. Nevertheless, he's still the number one dwarf in Hollywood (for me at least). I could go on and on about the cast, but I think it would be easier just to say that every actor, major or minor, was entertaining to watch. Especially Peter Vaughan as Uncle Alfie, the foul-mouthed wheel-chair bound elder. You're bound to have a good laugh with these people leading the way.

"Death at a Funeral" has been said to be a satire. In many ways, I agree when most people call it this. However, the film is a mix of many different kinds of humor, to meet the different preferences of certain people. There's satire, there's silliness, there's slapstick, and then there's the oddball charm of this rousingly funny farce. You're bound to find at least one aspect to be funny. I found every single on of them to be. "Death at a Funeral" had me laughing non-stop. It's a comedy so good that perhaps it deserves to go down in history as one of my personal favorite comedies of the 2000's. Seldom are we treated to a good laugh and while some comedies are triumphant in being just plain awesome overall, few can surpass Frank Oz's latest romp. It's a delightful film that's never immature when it's making jokes; even if it's silly. If you're like me, you'll laugh. There's maybe a five second intermission in which there are few laughs, but this hardly counts for anything. Perhaps the biggest flaw of the film is that it ends, but I'm not quite done talking about it yet (if that is what the former implies). I'd like to applaud the opening credits sequence, which is absolutely amusing. It's just a moving animation of a coffin making its way to the house of the deceased. It's pretty amusing despite its simplicity, and the music occupying the sequence was absolutely marvelous. Come to think of it, I liked the music present in this flick throughout. While a lot of it was repetitive, that doesn't really matter to me as long as it's catchy. And believe me; it's pretty damn catchy. So if you're looking for a crafty bastard of a comedy, then look no further. "Death at a Funeral" is a bloody good time, although some may not enjoy it. It's not for everyone; both the humor and the pacing just may not agree with everyone. I personally decided that I should care less and just enjoy the darned movie. That's what I did and that's probably why I liked it so much. I approached it in the way that it should be approached. I can only hope that you, reader, will too.

If you see "Death at a Funeral" for what it is, then I expect you will find it to be very funny. Perhaps I like it more than I should, but then again I originally liked it LESS than I should have. This film deserves more recognition than it's gotten, but then again I don't blame it for dividing critics and audiences alike. I don't know if it'll ever get the cult status that Frank Oz may have been hoping for, but it's good enough (in my book) to rival "Hot Fuzz" and "Shaun of the Dead" as some of the great, modern British comedies. It's not as good as those two films, but this film is good enough for me. If being consistently funny and sporadically amusing doesn't make a comedy awesome, then people are even more confusing than I though they were. I can certainly understand one for not liking "Death at a Funeral", but some have called it "immature", "childish", and "stupid". I disagree, as I found it to be fairly mature. After all, good comedies need a sense of maturity. I felt that "Death at a Funeral" had more than enough of the former to pass me as "awesome". It's funny, touching, well-acted, and memorable. I assure you that you'll have much trouble finding a better British comedy (aside from "Hot Fuzz") in 2007. It's one of the best that I've seen. But just because I loved watching it does not mean that everyone will. I expect that everyone will have their opinion to just how good "Death at a Funeral" is. My opinion is that it's pretty damn good, and just about every funny element and every running gag helps to hold it together when it should have fallen down. Nevertheless, it's an extremely clever film. I'd recommend it to many people; but as always, with a little caution.

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January 19, 2011
Yeah, this was pretty sweet. I saw this 'cause of Zoe Saldana LOL!
January 19, 2011
That's the remake you're thinking of. This is the original. I posted my review for the remake a while back.
 
January 17, 2011
This was much funnier than I thought it would be
January 18, 2011
Yeah. It should have sucked. But it didn't; it quite rocked!
 
1
More Death at a Funeral reviews
review by . October 10, 2010
The movie begins with a cartoonish, black and white representation of a casket endlessly traveling along a map of streets, missing turns and eventually pulling into a driveway and parking near a building at which point the cartoon becomes the film with a hearse arriving at a well to do ivy covered British mansion. The viewer prepares for the funeral and all appears to be stately and solemn; all abruptly upended by the first of many seemingly unlikely events and the farce has begun. The viewers' …
review by . March 05, 2010
Excellent comedy of errors
A man with a large family has just died, and the whole brood gathers at his home for the funeral. Among them: A son who feels inferior to his talented brother, a niece whose boyfriend was accidentally given a hallucinogenic drug, a lovelorn suitor, a hypochondriac, and a dwarf who has some very special photos of the deceased.       This hysterical Britcom is everything you could hope for - a superbly witty script, naturally funny actors who play deadpan with ease, and a director …
Quick Tip by . July 12, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Expect the unexpected when you see this movie. The DVD has hilarious outtakes.
Quick Tip by . July 06, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
HILARIOUS!!
Quick Tip by . July 02, 2010
This was be far THE funniest movie in years - laugh out loud funny! I loved it. Intelligent and witty.
Quick Tip by . February 01, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Absolutely hilarious! Easily the best British comedy in over a decade. I literally couldn't stop laughing at this dark, witty & zany farce!
review by . November 08, 2008
Pros: Still making me giggle from time to time     Cons: Two distinct "Eeeeewwww" moments, but that's it     The Bottom Line: Better than what I've seen lately and a whole lot funnier.     Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot. Trailers are the only form of advertising that works on me.  I can see a commercial for soap and never think about it again in my entire life, but if I see a movie trailer …
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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Details

Director: Frank Oz
Genre: Comedy
Release Date: August 17, 2007
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 1hr 30min
Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) , Samuel Goldwyn Pictures, 20th Century Fox
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