out of Five
Running time: 90
Death at a Funeral has a great cast and a suitably chaotic plot but it's never quite as funny as it thinks it is.
What's it all about?
Directed by Frank Oz, Death at a Funeral stars Matthew Macfadyen as Daniel, an aspiring author trying to arrange his father's funeral and dreading the arrival of his famous-novelist brother Robert (Rupert Graves). On the morning of the funeral, the family and friends arrive, with Daniel's cousin Martha (Daisy Donovan) anxious to make a good impression, but things quickly go wrong when it transpires that her fiance Simon (Alan Tudyk) has accidentally ingested a massive hallucinogen cooked up by her ne'er-do-well brother (Kris Marshall).
On top of that, Robert's arrival is every bit as irritating as Daniel had feared and the two brothers are soon at each other's throats, until a mysterious guest (Peter Dinklage) threatens to blackmail them with a sordid family secret.
The film's biggest strength is its excellent cast, all of whom spark off each other nicely, although Andy Nyman's character seems like a bit of a waste of space. Macfadyen is excellent as the frazzled brother trying to hold everything together and Graves is suitably smarmy as Robert.
Oz directs in a breezy style that keeps everything moving at a decent pace and the script piles on enough wacky contrivances to prevent us from getting bored. There's also a real sense of stiff-upper-lipped Britishness that somehow keeps everything grounded in reality, despite the ridiculousness of what's going on.
The main problem with the film is that despite all the ingredients being in place (hallucinating naked man, incontinent octogenarian, etc), the film is never actually all that funny. Frankly, when even the reliable old stand-by of the toilet gag fails to raise a chuckle then you know you're in trouble.
In short, Death at a Funeral is entirely watchable but it's not the riotous laugh-fest it thinks it is. Still, it is at least more fun than an actual funeral, so that's something.
Death at a Funeral (15)