Monday, 18 June 2012

Death at a Funeral Commentary

Only the British can really take something so sombre as a funeral and make you laugh your head off.  Right from the very beginning of this film, the comedy is pretty constant.  But it doesn't stay at one level.  What makes Death at a Funeral so good is that the comedy builds at a steady pace so by the end of the 90 minutes, you're laughing at anything and everything.  And that's the point.  There's really only one moment in this film that you're supposed to reflect and feel anything heartfelt.  And it does a good job of that too.  By that time, you are ready to take a break from the laughing anyways.

As an ensemble comedy, it doesn't rely on any one or two actors to provide most of the laughs by working against straight men and women.  So there's less of a chance that it's going to fall apart like a bad Adam Sandler movie (Sandler does some good stuff too but when he's off, the whole thing stinks). But, on the flip side, there has to be a delicate balance and chemistry throughout the ensemble to pull it off well.  Frank Oz did a fantastic job of having these actors work together and keep the comic timing at a perfect pace.  And the music is used brilliantly to keep the escalating humour going.

The viewer almost feels like the whole group is a real family and friends unit that has known each other for decades.  Going through the list of actors on IMDB, I can't think of any that would be a weak link in the cast.  Right from the main actors like Matthew MacFadyen and Alan Tudyk to the minor ones like Thomas Wheatley who plays the Reverend, the acting is more than solid all the way around.

Finally, the jokes, theme and overall feel of the movie are so typically British that I'm having a hard time imagining how they would do a remake of this in the manner that they did three years later.  I have yet to watch the Chris Rock/Martin Lawrence one because I feel that they are doing an injustice to the original by feeling they need to Americanize it.  I don't really mind Rock or Lawrence comedies so it could be OK.  But the first one is so good that there is really no need to do that.  But, eventually, curiosity will get the better of me and I'll watch it just to compare.  I see it's on Netflix so I won't have to pay anything.  I just hope I can stay objective given my snobbish affinity for the original.

Definitely see it.  You may want to buy it because you'll want to see it again.

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