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Texas Funeral

1 rating: 3.0
A movie directed by W. Blake Herron

Jeremiah Sparta (Martin Sheen) has died, and his family comes together for the rituals and festivities of death. This isn't any ordinary family, though: they're Texans. With a good dose of self-effacing humor, a star-studded cast portrays the … see full wiki

Director: W. Blake Herron
Release Date: 1999
MPAA Rating: R
1 review about Texas Funeral

Texas Funeral ~ Ishtar goes Six Feet Under to The Big Chill

  • May 20, 2003
Pros: the acting, by far

Cons: it's only a movie, who cares

The Bottom Line: .....

A Texas Funeral, written and directed by W. Blake Herron is listed in the comedy, fantasy, war, and drama genre. It would be hard to narrow a genre down for this movie. Is it wrong to laugh at a movie about a funeral? Well, thinking back to The Big Chill , it doesn’t hurt a bit to have a hearty chuckle at such a somber occasion. I would probably slip this release right into the dark comedy genre because there is plenty of offbeat, shaded humor throughout and more bizarre episodes than most movies deserve.

Martin Sheen plays Grandpa Sparta, the patriarch of the family, is the dearly departed. Attending the services are his son Zach [Robert Patrick] with his wife Mary Joan [Jane Adams] and his 8 year old son, Little Sparta [Quinton Jones]. From the adjoining property comes nephew Clinton [Chris Noth] and his bible toting, fire and brimstone speaking wife, the diminutive Miranda [Joanne Whalley]. On the way to the services, Zach and family stop to pick up his sister, Charlotte [Olivia d'Abo] from the local insane asylum. Also in attendance is naturally wife Murtis [Grace Zabriskie] and wanna be physician Walter [Isaiah Washington].

Let the fun begin.

Somewhere back in the family tree a confederate soldier discovers the real fighting force for the armies - C. bactrianus syn. C. ferus or the dromedary. This spirit has continued down the line as each generation breeds them for war. Of course, they are basically pack animals, not one to rush blindly into battle, so you can see the problem here. In the home, on the walls, you find the heads mounted of dromedaries from the past, much like others mount a deer head or large fish. The soul survivor of the breed, Robert E. Lee, is suffering from the passing of his friend and handler, Granpa Sparta, and you know he will soon pass on as well.

As part of the will reading, you discover Granpa Sparta wishes Robert E. Lee to be buried at his side, construction of this large and unwieldy coffin is a discovering process of its own between Zach and Clinton. These cousins, often at odds with each other, discover some truths about them and their past as they work side-by-side. As well, Little Sparta has some discoveries of his own as the ghostly Grandpa Sparta drops in to give him helpful hints and the outline of quite a shady past.

Also in the will we discover the illicit affair of Murtis and Walter’s father and the obsession of the ears of the family men and the sexual throes it pulls from their women. So much so that Murtis actually removed Granpa’s ear as he lie in the coffin, securing it in a beautiful teakwood box. Charlotte, the crazy, divulges secrets from her past and we discover she just may be the sanest person in the family. Well, there IS that little interlude in the cemetery with Walter, but that is another story altogether.

There is a lot to be learned from a funeral in Texas. Not all of it will sadden you but there are some pensive moments.

WON ~ Best writer, Los Angeles Film Festival; Best sound editing, Motion Picture Sound Editors Golden Reel Award.

Filming was done is Bastrop & San Marcos, Texas. Many beautiful vistas and some stark ones as well. This film is worth watching for the outlandish acting and surreal scenarios alone. Each character was uniquely a character in their own right and all seemed to be having a great time with the movie. As a side note, I will mention that no dromedaries were harmed in the making of this film.

Go to your own Texas Funeral, take a hankie and be prepared to have a good time.



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