Director: Frank Oz
Funerals can be funny. Rahul Rawail tried to prove it last year in Buddha Mar Gaya where Anupam Kher played the tycoon’s corpse with secrets popping out of the coffin. The movie crashed at the box office. It’s hard to decide who’s more expressive as a corpse, Anupam in Rawail’s failed farce or the British gentleman who played the dead patriarch of a British royal family in the movie.
It’s hard not to smile and even chuckle at the excesses of a funeral crowd who don’t seem to get it right. The inter-relations are formed quickly and that’s saying a lot in a film that has approximately three dozen characters in various postures of mourning and panting. There’s some puffing involving cigarettes and other unmentionable objects. Ten minutes into the comedy, and you’re hooked to hectic hilarity as characters drive into leafy lanes of a British town to attend the funeral.
Directed by Frank Oz (Bowfinger, In & Out) and featuring a cast made up of the cream of Britain’s crop, the film mischievously explores what happens on the day when a typically divided family is finally forced to come to terms with each other’s – bad behavior, outrageous faults, skeletons in the closet and all. On the morning of their father’s funeral, the family and friends of the deceased each arrive with his or her own roiling anxieties. Son Daniel (MATTHEW MACFADYEN) knows he will have to face his flirty, blow-hard, famous-novelist brother Robert (RUPERT GRAVES) who’s just flown in from New York, not to mention the promises of a new life he’s made to his wife Jane (KEELY HAWES). Meanwhile, Daniel’s cousin Martha (DAISY DONOVAN) and her dependable new fiance Simon (ALAN TUDYK) are desperate to make a good impression on Martha’s uptight father – a plan that literally goes out the window when Simon accidentally ingests a designer drug en route to the service, leaving him prone to uncontrollable bouts of delirium and nudity in front of his potential in-laws. Then comes the real shocker: a mysterious guest (PETER DINKLAGE) who threatens to unveil an earth-shattering family secret. As riotous mayhem and unfortunate mishaps ensue on every front, it is now up to the two brothers to hide the truth from their family and friends and figure out how to not only bury their dearly beloved, but the secret he’s been keeping. The film stars Matthew Macfadyen (Pride & Prejudice), Peter Dinklage (The Station Agent, Elf), Alan Tudyk (Firefly, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story), Ewen Bremner (Trainspotting, Match Point), Rupert Graves (V for Vendetta).
Frank Oz’s character oozes irreverence and iconoclasm without seeming to. They’re nutty and cracked, goofy and ribald. There’s a man high on Valium romping naked on the roof of the mourners’ residence. There’s a dwarf claiming with photographic evidence to be the dead tycoon’s secret gay lover. There’s a vain novelist from New York who scorns his Britain-based brother for being a home bird. There’re immediate instigations and profound provocations jostling for space. Titters are tucked away in the farcical folds of this done-to-death-comedy that tells you it’s okay to laugh in the face of death and old age.
Finally, as all you’ve to show for it is an inert figure in a coffin and a house full of self-seeking hyper-selfish relatives orchestrated by a priest who has another appointment around the "coroner". The film features a sparkling array of acting talent. Watch out for Peter Dinklage, who seems saddled with shit in more ways than one. And Alan Tudyk, romping naked among mourners preserves a core of dignity in the ludicrous.
"Death At Funeral" laughs at the living rather than the dead. It tells us that we don’t need to fear mortality but the danger of taking life a tad too seriously.