Death at a Funeral (2007) Review
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Even before the wrong corpse shows up for his father’s funeral, Daniel (Matthew MacFadyen) knows that the day will be a disaster. His famous novelist brother, Robert (Rupert Graves), is flying in from New York. His wife, Jane (Keeley Hawes), is pressuring him to announce to his family that they’re moving away to a flat of their own. And somehow, while trying to organize the comings and goings of their friends and family, he’s got to find time to polish up the eulogy that no one thinks he’s worthy to give.

Just when the service is about to begin, though, things get even worse. Daniel’s cousin Martha (Daisy Donovan) arrives with her fiancé, Simon (Alan Tudyk), who has a really bad reaction to the pills he took to calm him down around his disapproving future father-in-law. And a mysterious stranger (Peter Dinklage) threatens to reveal a deep, dark secret to all of the dearly beloved gathered to mourn Daniel’s father’s death.

  
 
Death at a Funeral is absolutely, no-doubt-about-it hilarious. But, really, that’s not much of a surprise. Director Frank Oz is responsible for some of my favorite comedies—like In & Out, What About Bob?, and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. He makes the kind of comedies that all kinds of moviegoers can appreciate. They’re not gender- or age-specific. They’re not made to go with the latest fads (like the recent flood of slacker comedies). They’re just good old classic comedies—the ones that I tend to buy on DVD and watch over and over and over, and they just never get old.

While the R-rated Death at a Funeral is a little edgier and a little more grown-up than some of Oz’s other films, it’s a movie that’s sure to inspire fits of laughter in everyone from college kids to older viewers (which I know from experience, since the theater was packed with senior citizens when I saw it—and I was a little worried that a few of them might laugh themselves into a stroke). There’s just so much going on—from the subtle to the completely outrageous—that it’s guaranteed to have audiences howling. In fact, it’s one of those movies that I need to watch again, just to catch the rest of the dialogue—since the laughter in the theater often drowned it out.

Though a few of the jokes do occasionally go a little too far, most of the film is full of comic delights—thanks, in part, to a great cast. Alan Tudyk, especially, is brilliant as the heavily-drugged Simon. And MacFadyen plays poor flustered Daniel perfectly straight. From delivery to timing to facial expressions, the performances in this British comedy are often spot-on.

I can’t remember the last time a funeral was quite this funny.


Blu-ray Review:
There may not be a lot of special features on the Death at a Funeral Blu-ray release, but they manage to be both informative and entertaining. So, no matter what your mood, you’ll find just what you’re looking for.

No comedy release can be complete without a gag reel—and this one is especially lengthy. It’s filled with so much uncontrollable laughter that I can only imagine how long it must have taken to make the film.

The disc also includes a pair of commentary tracks. Director Frank Oz has his own commentary—an informative audio track that discusses everything from the thought process behind various scenes to the costume design. Though you may expect a comedy director to produce a wacky commentary track, his is smart, detailed, and well organized.

For a sillier commentary, then, you’ll have to choose the second option, with writer Dean Craig and actors Alan Tudyk and Andy Nyman. While the three offer plenty of interesting insights—from rewrites to on-set stories—they also spend a whole lot of time giggling.

Though you won’t find any making-of features or behind-the-scenes silliness on the Death at a Funeral Blu-ray, the commentaries (and the gag reel) offer that and more. So if you have the extra time, be sure to listen to at least a few minutes of each.

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