ASPECT RATIO: 1.85:1 enhanced for widescreen televisions
RUNNING TIME: 91 minutes
AUDIO: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital
SUBTITLES: English Subtitles for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired, Spanish
AUDIO COMMENTARY: Two commentaries, one with director Frank Oz, one with writer Dean Craig and actors Alan Tudyk and Andy Nyman.
SPECIAL FEATURES: Gag reel
A dysfunctional family reuniting for their father’s funeral must face their personal issues, an angry little person, selfish relatives, and a naked man.
Starring: Ewen Bremner, Keeley Hawes, Peter Dinklage, Matthew MacFadyen, Kris Marshall, Alan Tudyk, Daisy Donovan
Director: Frank Oz
Screenplay: Dean Craig
Director Frank Oz has had an uneven history with comedies: for every Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, we got a Bowfinger. While Death at a Funeral has some nice moments, the whole tone is slightly off, and not in a funny way. Off-kilter comedies can be great, but Funeral doesn’t quite deliver on a great premise.
British comedy has different sensibilities than its American counterparts, which usually means they are funnier, but here, all of the great parts just do not work as a whole. Tudyk steals the show, and Dinklage is outstanding as usual. Daisy Donovan is funny as well, but overall the film feels like a bunch of nice bits mashed together. As a Frank Oz fan, I was really hoping to love this film. I just could not.
While it fluctuates between screwball and dark comedy, I also had an issue with the R-rated level of profanity. Usually an F-bomb does not bother me, and in the right moment can be funny, but the film is profane at all the wrong moments. The filmmakers would have been better served going for a PG-13 film, as the salty language added nothing to the proceedings.
There are many who absolutely love this film. I can see why: many of the characters are well-developed and often funny. With comedy being so subjective, there may be those who overlook the flaws and enjoy the film more than I did. If you really want to appreciate the film, try watching the wretched 2010 American remake with Chris Rock. It makes the original look like a masterpiece.
VIDEO AND AUDIO
The video image is sharp, with bright colors and only some evidence of film grain. It is not a perfect image, but it is not distracting. The audio gives the dialouge priority in the center channels, and the music rarely overpowers it. There is a nice balance between the two that makes for a top-notch presentation.
The gag reel is pretty good, and at times was funnier than the movie in stretches. The commentaries are superb; Frank Oz is engaging and provides some nice insight. The Tudyk and Nyman commentary is very funny; as a Tudyk fan, I found it to be a real bonus to listen to him talk outside of a role.
BUY IT, REDBOX IT, OR NETFLIX IT?
OVERALL GRADE: B+
Death at a Funeral is a mixed bag. It has so much going for it, including funny actors and a great director. However, an uneven script cannot decide between screwball, heartfelt, and black comedy, and it becomes obvious upon viewing the mix does not work. Casual viewers will enjoy it, just beware of the heavy language. It warrants a rent, while (or whilst) British comedy fans will probably want to add it to their collection.
Death at a Funeral is now available on Blu-ray from MGM/Fox Home Entertainment.
Click here to order Death at a Funeral from Amazon!