Sunday, March 09, 2008

DEATH AT A FUNERAL (2007)

DEATH AT A FUNERAL
*
Rating: R
Length: 90 minutes
Director: Frank Oz (Little Shop of Horrors; The Dark Crystal)
Writer: Dean Craig
Starring: Matthew Macfadyen, Ewen Bremner, Rupert Graves, Peter Dinklage, Keeley Hawes, Andy Nyman, Jane Asher, Daisy Donovan

There seems to be a lively debate between fans of “Death at a Funeral” and it’s detractors. The fans insist that those who didn’t like it just don’t get “British humor”. I am a detractor. I thought the movie was awful and I love “British humor”. The deadpan style of comedy that defines this so-called brand of humor can now be found all over American entertainment (look no further than the Americanization of “The Office” or the Christopher Guest mockumentaries). “Death at a Funeral” seems like a lazy rip-off of an American rip-off. There are no bits of “Monty Python” or “The Goon Show” here- and as much as it would love to be in the Ricky Gervais category of genius- it is anything but. Instead it is very tired. The gags are so unoriginal and played out that the only thing funny about them is that the filmmakers thought that they would be funny. Mel Brooks once said that tragedy is cutting his finger and comedy is falling down a sewer hole and dying (I am paraphrasing here). Director Frank Oz certainly thinks that making a moment uncomfortable in the face of tragedy is funny enough. Oz is without a doubt a talented director (“Little Shop of Horrors”, “What About Bob?,The Dark Crystal”, etc.), but he seems to be stuck in a big rut. His prior picture to this was the dreadful “Stepford Wives” remake. Oz blamed the studio for it’s failure, but “Death at the Funeral” makes me wonder if the studio was really at a fault. Especially since this is even worst. There is a death amongst a dysfunctional British family and during the funeral all hell breaks loose. Could it have been funny? I suppose so, but don’t you get the sense from even reading the description that the premise is a bit old? The daughter’s boyfriend accidentally takes LSD, a dwarf shows up claiming to be the dead man’s gay lover, there are fights, there are secrets, people get drunk, but none of it- and I mean none of it- is funny. Oz seems to have lost his sense of comic timing and more importantly he is presenting a story that really doesn’t seem like it needed to be presented. He tries to make everything so outrageous that the characters all meld together so no one particularly stands out. The “chaos” just doesn’t seem that chaotic. There are no rewards for watching and for a comedy that’s about as funny as attending a real funeral.

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Yamit Mamo- Love Our Time Today

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1 comment:

Sarah said...

The most predictable movie I've seen in a while, even though it's supposed to be so "out there." Giving it one star is being pretty generous.