Bopping with Niall JP O'Leary

Niall O'Leary insists on sharing his hare-brained notions and hysterical emotions. Personal obsessions with cinema, literature, food and alcohol feature regularly.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Death at a Funeral

Let's face it, Frank Oz can really only do comedy (though judging by the reactions to his 'The Stepford Wives' one might have doubted even this). Consider the lethargic 'The Score', a movie starring Norton, De Niro and Brando; how could you go wrong! Yet, he did. However, who can recall 'Dirty, Rotten Scoundrels' without a smile, or even 'Bowfinger'. 'Death at a Funeral' is something of a return to form and a funny movie.
Set in England and with an almost entirely British cast, the movie plays like a more upbeat 'Festen'; a dysfunctional family get together for the funeral of the patriarch and comic situations, involving drugs, blackmail and sibling rivalry, ensue. It sounds like your average sitcom, and were it not for the production values and the high powered cast, this might well be more suitable for the small screen. Signalling every comic setup well in advance, it follows the conventions of British situational humour, but is none the worse for that. It's certainly closer to British television comedies than American ones. If the threads are hardly original, they are funny and played out with verve by the talented cast. Matthew McFadyen in particular seems to be shedding his romantic lead persona (after 'Pride and Prejudice') in favour of a more down-to-earth style. He is a strong anchor in the chaos. Alan Tudyk, gurns his way through a thankless role as an accidentally spaced out lawyer, but though too much time is devoted to his antics, he somehow wins our sympathy. And as his devoted girlfriend, Daisy Donovan (so that's where she went), does what's required in an unfussy fashion.
There is nothing special here. There are no hidden depths, nor huge belly laughs. What we have is an average script boosted by above average talent. But with its lack of pretention, comes a certain likeability. Showing none of the precious self-consciousness that mars a Richard Curtis epic, it makes the audience laugh honestly. And that is afterall what a comedy should do.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home