Advertise - Print Edition

Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

A comedy to die for

Death at a Funeral released on DVD

Published: March 7, 2008
Section: Arts, Etc.

diverse-city-3-7-08_page_2_image_0001.jpgThere are certain capacities where one would find slapstick humor inappropriate. Funerals would be such a capacity. So why do critics find Frank Oz’s Death at a Funeral to be so “uproariously funny?” (Claudia Puig, USA Today).

That’s a simple question to answer. Death at a Funeral is the perfect mix of an entertaining plot line, a dysfunctional family, hallucinogenic drugs, and, well, a dwarf.

The film begins by introducing the audience to all its characters, from the cares-way-too-much Daniel (Matthew Macfadyen); to his brother, the novelist, Robert (Rupert Graves) to the free lance illegal drug making Troy (Kris Marshall); to (my favorite character) the germaphobic hypochondriac Howard ( Andy Nyman) who ends up being in charge of the ever-cantankerous Uncle Alfie (Peter Vaughan); to the usually high-strung Simon (Alan Tudyk), who, through a series of unfortunate events, ends up taking acid.

Without these characters, the movie would be nothing. The actors do a phenomenal job creating these relatable, comedic characters that you hate, love, or tolerate (depending on who it is). It’s absolutely hysterical to watch these upper-class characters trying to keep a “stiff upper lip” through several incidents where this seems to be impossible.

These incidents include three accidental druggings, the arrival of the wrong body, Uncle Alfie in general, a serious blackmailing, and the bright idea of bonding and gagging a dwarf and then…well, I don’t want to give too much away.

I come from a very English family and found that many of the members of the family onscreen reminded me of my own. There were definitely many outrageous moments, especially in the climax of the film, but as long as the viewer is willing to go along with them, he’ll be sure to enjoy himself.

Besides being an English comedy, the movie has a few extra moments which won me over as well. By the end of the funeral, everyone seems to have learnt more about themselves and grown a bit as a person. It’s a little cliché, but still comforting.

The film came out on DVD on February 26. The DVD has the movie in wide and full screen (depending on which side you use) and also has a gag reel which is very entertaining as well. There is also commentary from Oz as well as writer Dean Craig, and actors Tudyk, and Nyman.

In all, Death at a Funeral is a cute English comedy with fabulous characters and just the right amount of slapstick. It keeps you engaged and laughing the entire time. I would recommend the film for anyone who has a taste for English comedy and an acceptance of the outrageous.