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Death at a Funeral

Starring Matthew MacFayden, Rupert Graves, Peter Dinklage, Alan Tudyk, Daisy Donovan, Jane Asher and Ewen Bremner
Screenplay by Dean Craig
Directed by Frank Oz
website: www.deathatafuneral-themovie.com

IN SHORT: Rock 'em Sock 'em Laughs. An absolute killer comedy. [Rated R for language and drug content. 90 minutes]

With only a name brand director Frank Oz of Muppets fame to intrigue us, we planted for Death at a Funeral solely because we trust Oz' choice and talent. Honestly? Death is a work almost screaming for someone to buy up remake rights and fill it with an American cast so someone will see it. It is a story we may have seen to some extent, before and, when all is said and done, the film builds into a gut busting slapstick farce. Here's the trick, folks. If you are going to watch in a theater, take as many people as you can, or go on a date night. A big crowd is going to be absolutely essential how funny this flick gets for you -- laughter is, after all, contagious.

The death of a loved one is usually a sad occasion. It brings families together, at least physically, and allows them to set past grievances aside as the Deceased is fondly remembered and properly respected.

Unless, of course, the two brothers running "the show" have been estranged for years -- Daniel (Matthew MacFayden) has tended to his deteriorating dad and distraught mother (Jane Asher) while jet setting brother Robert (Rupert Graves) is living the high life as a famous novelist in New York City. Expecting his successful brother to cover the costs of the funeral, Daniel has already committed his available cash for a down payment on a London apartment. That is what his wife, Jane (Keely Hawes) wants and what she is darn well is going to get. Except that Robert has shown up sans checkbook. A battle is brewing. Wait, there's more!

Cousin Martha (Daisy Donovan) intends to introduce her fiance Simon (Alan Tudyk) to the family, despite her father's strident objections to the union. Simon is a nervous, quivering lump in the back seat of the car as Martha drives to pick up other mourners. One is cousin Troy (Kris Marshall), a "supplier" of pharmaceuticals to the local college kidlets. All completely legal, of course <nudge nudge wink wink>. Martha sees a bottle marked "valium" and gives two to Simon, to calm him down. It will be a while before the LSD kicks in -- (oops). Wait, there's more!

Or less, actually, in the form of little person Peter (Peter Dinklage) who has come to the funeral bearing explicit pornographic snapshots he feels are worth £15,000 to keep secret. Any American film viewer will figure it out before the words "Dad was gay??!!" are uttered but, hey, what are two manly men supposed to do with a blackmailing little guy? It's all just another element readying to explode in a film whose title gives away more than we're ever going to do. Wait, there's more!

That explosion is rudely manifested in the behavior of Uncle Alfie (Peter Vaughan) , a loudmouth cripple in a wheelchair, who totally abuses poor cousin Justin (Ewen Bremner) who has to lift the portly one in and out of his wheelchair. Add it up folks: angry brothers, angry wife, stoned silly relative, blackmailing midget and one obese man who has to go potty NOW!

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Death at a Funeral, he would have paid . . .

$8.50

We laughed so hard we almost didn't make it to the potty our self. And don't think we've given it all away with the literal description. We couldn't take the laff out of slapstick if you tried.

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