Written By: Jacob Golba
Check out the trailer for Death at a Funeral at the end of the review! Let us know what you though of the review too!
It is common practice for America to spin stories from our friends across the Atlantic into tales of our own. Films like The Italian Job, Arthur, and Alfie are just a few examples. Most people probably know 2010’s Death at a Funeral, starring Chris Rock and Martin Lawrence, but too few seem to be aware that there is a British film of the same name, and that it is just as hilarious, if not more, than the remake.
Death at a Funeral lacks the star power of its American remake, but the characters are just as finely crafted and real even without big names to portray them, and the ensemble cast manages to keep things interesting as the film progresses.
Daniel (Matthew Macfayden) is an earnest young man who has been thrust into being his father’s funeral coordinator, and it’s obvious from the beginning that it is difficult for this man to juggle his newfound responsibility with the grief of his father’s death. The arrival of his brother Robert (Rupert Graves), a flaky (and penniless) writer, does not help, as the two were supposed to split the funeral costs. Now, Daniel finds himself being pulled in too many directions, assuming his father’s role after death, and this struggle is the emotional centerpiece of the film.
On top of that, Daniel’s cousin Martha (Daisy Donovan) and her fiancé Simon (Alan Tudyk) arrive at the funeral after the latter ingested a designer hallucinogenic crafted by Martha’s pharmacist brother Troy (Kris Marshall). Watching Martha and Troy try to restrain Simon as he trips out is a kind of humor that not every viewer may be into, but Simon is so over-the-top that even those who don’t dig drug jokes will be chuckling (at the very least).
But perhaps one of the most hilarious additions to this cast is in the form of achondroplastic dwarf named Peter (Peter Dinklage). No one seems to know why this mysterious American stranger has showed up to the funeral, and this reviewer won’t spoil the big reveal, but it will first shock you (as it does the characters), then surprise you in a way you will not expect.
Overall, the main strengths of Death at a Funeral lie in real and hilarious character interactions in between moments of ridiculous British humor and black comedy. The film not only seeks to make something grim like a funeral entertaining, but also showcases, in a comedic light, how people deal with grief. This is what is truly attractive about the film, and anyone who has had to deal with the labor of burying a family member can relate (even though I’m sure there are few funerals as catastrophic as the one in the film!)
Death at a Funeral is wrong in all the right places, filled with black humor and classic British wit that is a far cry from the over-the-top-ness of the remake. Those expecting to get something like the Chris Rock film will be sorely disappointed. However, for those with an open mind, this film will delight and surprise you. Though the film will not be lauded as a classic, it is not a bad way to spend and hour and a half, and what more could you ask for? We at Hollywood Apples give Death at a Funeral three-and-a-half out of five apples!