Friday, August 17, 2007

Death at a Funeral

Into everyone’s life, and death, it seems a little chaos must fall. Death at a Funeral brings out all kinds of zaniness as friends and family gather to bury one of their own and end up nearly killing each other as things get further and further out of control. Director Frank Oz gives us one of the year’s best films and the best comedy of 2007 so far.

A death in the family brings together a group of mourners each struggling with their own lives and creates the catalyst for the hilarious and the absurd as nothing goes as planned.

The dutiful son Daniel (Matthew Macfadyen) tries to comfort his mother (Jane Asher), who is driving his wife Jane (Keeley Hawes) crazy with her constant snips, and prepare to give the eulogy everyone expects his brother Robert (Rupert Graves), the famous author from New York, to give.

Also in attendance is the brother of the dead man (Peter Egan) and his two children Martha (Daisy Donovan) and Troy (Kris Marshall). Martha has brought along her boyfriend Simon (Alan Tudyk) who has taken what he believes to be some of Troy’s Valium to calm his nerves against seeing Martha’s disapproving father. Trouble is instead of Valium, Simon has taken an incredibly powerful hallucinagenic drug.

Also arriving are friends of the family Howard (Andy Nyman) and Justin (Ewen Bremner) who bring along the handicapped and loudmouthed Uncle Alfie (Peter Vaughan). Howard is troubled by a patch of skin on his wrist, while Justin’s sole purpose for attending is to hit on Martha whom he once had a drunken one-night stand with years before.

Added to this chaos is a small stranger (Peter Dinklage) with pictures to show and stories to tell about Daniel’s father, as well as some demands of his own.

All of these characters and events converge at the funeral which leads to disorder, disarray, and disaster, some of it moving and all of it quite funny. At a running time of 90 minutes the film fills every frame with great humor and superb performances. This is the funniest film of 2007. There’s no wasted moments or slow points as director Frank Oz juggles all the stories that make up this farce like a master.

Death is easy, comedy is hard. Well, Oz and company make both look darn easy and unbelievably funny in this bright and witty comedy which made me laugh like no other film this year. I know most people will flock to see Superbad also out today, but although it provides some laughs and heart, it lacks the wit of this gem which is one of the year’s best films.

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