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Death at a Funeral (AF)


Stars: Matthew Macfadyen, Keeley Hawes, Alan Tudyk, Jane Asher, Peter Vaughan, Daisy Donovan, Peter Dinklage, Andy Nyman, Ewen Bremner, Rupert Graves, Peter Egan, Kris Marshall, Thomas Wheatley

Director: Frank Oz

Bad taste isn’t to everyone’s taste, especially when comedy is involved. I recall a respected colleague who watched Airplane! as stony-faced as a patient meeting a proctologist for the first time while I howled with laughter. And the relentless bad taste displayed by frenetic farce will doubtless divide audiences just as much since it opens as it means to go on with the coffin arriving at a country house and raising an expletive from the mortician’s men because it turns out to be the wrong coffin. Dean Craig’s irreverently inventive screenplay begins as it means to carry on with one disgraceful and for me disgracefully funny scene following another as members of a deeply dysfunctional family gather for the eponymous funeral.

Ingredients of the increasingly comic madness that ensues involves feuding brothers MacFadyen and Graves, a blackmailer of restricted height (Dinklage) who ends up in the coffin with the late paterfamilias who was also his gay lover)
Marshall, whose illegal “hallucinogenic concoction”, unfortunately contained in a Valium bottle, transforms dependable dullard Tudyk into a drooling twit who ends up stark naked on the roof, belligerent wheelchair-bound Vaughan who ends the outrageous proceedings with a splendid punchline headlining the perfectly chosen cast who play the mad material for all they’re worth.

Having established an anything goes tone right from the start Oz keeps the show bubbling, making the most of the plentiful one-liners (I regret to say I laughed out loud when Nyman, desperately trying to keep visiting vicar Wheatley occupied while other carried out various dirty works, asked the reverent “How is God today?”. No marks for good taste but high marks for cheering me up - twice.

Alan Frank

USA 2007. UK Distributor: Verve Pictures. Colour.
90 minutes. not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 29 Oct 2007