A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 144 – Death at a Funeral (2007)

Death at a Funeral (2007) – July 22, 2010

I am truly sorry I can’t provide a flow chart or a family tree for this movie. It’s got a decently sized ensemble cast and all but two of them are somehow related and I’m going to try and explain it all in brief. There’s a lot going on in this movie, which is sort of the point. It’s a comedy about a funeral and a series of increasingly wild things going on behind closed doors during said funeral and all of said things behind said doors intersecting at just the wrong and/or right time. It’s also about family in general. Granted, I care more about Alan Tudyk’s ass than whether the main character gets along with his brother, but we get both, so hurrah.

Let’s go over our cast of characters. Most important is Edward, but he’s dead. There’s Sandra, his wife, and Daniel and Robert, his sons. Daniel and his wife, Jane, have been living with Edward and Sandra for several years, taking care of Edward and now Sandra, being responsible and, as is often the case, underappreciated. I am immediately reminded of a friend of my family and of The Norman Conquests (which I’m going to write a short note about later). Robert has been living in New York being a successful novelist. Daniel and Robert have Sibling Issues. Jane also has Issues, but hers involve wanting to move out of the bloody house and into a flat without Sandra around.

Next we have Troy and Martha, Edward and Sandra’s nephew and niece, and Martha’s boyfriend, Simon (Alan Tudyk). Their father doesn’t like Simon and Simon’s nervous. Troy doesn’t really care one way or the other, but he’s important because he’s studying to be a pharmacist and accidentally doses Simon with a powerful hallucinogen. You can imagine how well that goes at a funeral. Protip: Naked romps around the roof while hallucinating do not endear one to one’s future father-in-law.

Then there’s Howard and Justin, whose relationships to the others I wasn’t quite sure of at first, but it turns out Howard’s a friend of Daniel’s and Justin hooked up with Martha once and has come along to try and get back with her. They pick up Daniel and Robert and Martha and Troy’s Uncle Alfie, who is a crotchety old man in a wheelchair. Howard is not my favorite character as he second only to Simon in providing physical comedy and he’s tops at providing comedy of embarrassment.

And I haven’t even mentioned Peter, who shows up at the funeral but doesn’t seem to know anyone but knew Edward somehow and keeps trying to talk to Daniel but obviously Daniel’s busy. Suffice it to say that Peter wants money and he’s willing to blackmail Daniel and Robert to get it. Which is really where the movie gets unhinged. I mean, Simon drifting about talking about how green everything is and unrolling the toilet paper was bad enough, obviously. But Peter’s the one who makes everything just go right off the rails. And Troy’s custom-tailored hallucinogens come into play too. There’s a lot of rushing around trying to look somber and calm in the main rooms full of black-clad mourning family and friends while in the back rooms, behind closed doors, people are frantically whispering and arguing and using the curtain ties as restraints.

Not only is there all the over-the-top stuff with the hallucinogens and compromising photographs and Alan Tudyk’s Simon stripping naked and climbing out onto the roof, but there’s all the family stuff as well. Robert and Daniel have some unresolved crud that pretty much boils down to Prodigal Son Syndrome, and there’s the whole subplot with Justin trying to chat up Martha while Martha is frantically trying to keep Simon calm and clothed. In the fine tradition of some excellent British comedies, like Waking Ned Devine and Four Weddings and a Funeral (neither of which we own, which is obviously a travesty), not to mention things like Local Hero, Comfort and Joy and The Norman Conquests, there’s some serious stuff going on underneath all the comedy (and I won’t lie, a lot of the comedy of embarrassment was downright painful for me to watch, but I have a Thing). The comedy is the highlight, but what’s a highlight without contrast?

July 22, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , ,

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