Death at a Funeral
Nobody does stark, painful, and above all, hilarious comedies like the Brits. Death at a Funeral is quite possibly the best example this year of exactly that type of comedy Britain is so adept at producing in spades. Frank Oz takes the formula for a traditional British farce- extreme stuffiness injected with irreverent absurdity- and puts it on acid. Literally.
Frank Oz starts the film off with a case of mistaken identity, a hallmark of British comedy. In this movie, however, the mistaken identity is that of the main character’s father- recently deceased, and incorrectly delivered to the wrong country home. Death at a Funeral continues in much the way one could expect of an ensemble piece concerning the bringing together of a patriarch’s eccentric family. Then the drugs kick in.
The rest of the movie is a wild farce, concerning the guest of honor’s still very much alive extortionist gay lover, the effect of hallucinogens on tightly wound naked Welshmen, and the family dynamics of a wholly dysfunctional and highly proper clan. Oz orchestrates it masterfully, timing each explosion of circumstance to destroy the maximum amount of tact and decorum. The shrapnel of reputation and dignity that is left littering the scene just adds to the painful humor that guarantees knuckle-biting tear-jerking laughter.
Possibly the only disappointment of Death at a Funeral is leaving the theater and remembering that we still live in the comedic world of Adam Sandler this side of the pond.
Playing at 7 and 9 this Thursday at the Little Art. Run, do not walk, to this film.