Thursday, May 29, 2008

Death at a Funeral (live action British movie)

Daniel's father has died, and all he wants to do is hold a nice, dignified funeral for him. However, things go wrong from the very beginning, and everything only gets worse. There are basically two main problems being dealt with by two groups of people who are desperately trying to keep everyone else at the funeral from finding out what's going on. One group tries to deal with a blackmailing dwarf who has pictures revealing a shocking secret about Daniel's father. Then there's Martha and Troy, who are trying to hide Martha's fiance's accidental pre-funeral hallucinogenic drug ingestion. In addition to the two main problems, which devolve into full nudity and potential death by the end of the movie, there's tons of minor ones, including angry old Uncle Alfie, a sleazy moron who won't leave Martha alone, a priest on a schedule, and more.

If I'm incorrect about this being a British movie, let me know, but it feels mostly British (some of the humor feels more American), despite the occasional American involved in its creation. Overall, I enjoyed this movie, although I didn't like the storyline involving the dwarf nearly as much as the storyline involving the drugs. The storyline involving the drugs was hilarious, while the dwarf storyline got very close to horrible by the end. I enjoy a lot of black comedy, but poop jokes followed immediately by body disposal plans did not hit all the right buttons for me. So many of the characters responded to farcical situations in ways that were both funny and realistic-feeling, that the immediate "let's figure out how to dispose of the body" response to a man who has just seriously injured himself and may be dead seemed off. I'm not sure what kind of response I would've preferred - maybe if they had just tried to hide the body, instead of attempting to get rid of it for good before they'd even considered calling a hospital?

I didn't watch all the extras for this movie, but I did watch some of them. The gag reel was mostly uninteresting, although I enjoyed the end of it. I came away with the impression that this movie must've taken a very long time to make, what with all the laughing. Then again, a lot of gag reels give you that impression. According to IMDb, the movie only took 7 weeks to film, but who knows if that's actually true. Never trust everything you hear or read, especially when it involves a site that can be edited by anyone who's done the free registration. I listened to a little of one of the commentary tracks, the one involving screenwriter Dean Craig and actors Alan Tudyk (Simon, Martha's fiancee) and Andy Nyman (Howard, the worrier who is unfortunate enough to have to deal with Uncle Alfie). It was fun to hear about some of the stuff that went on behind the scenes - those three are funny together. I didn't listen to any of director Frank Oz's commentary track, because hearing about a director's vision bores me.

As usual, there were a few previews, and none of those movies interested me very much. It takes a lot for me to make myself watch live action movies anymore, since I prefer animation, especially Japanese anime. With this movie, it took Alan Tudyk, who played Martha's fiancee and also played Wash in Firefly and Serenity, and it took off-color British humor.

  • Waking Ned Devine (live action British movie) - Once again, let me know if this movie isn't actually British - the events take place in Ireland, so this may actually be an Irish movie for all I know. After Ned Devine dies of shock upon hearing that he's won the lottery, his entire village enters into a pact to pretend that he's still alive, have someone pose as him to get the money, and then split the money between everyone. If I remember right (it's been a few years since I've seen this), this comedy ends in a way that's actually very nice, considering how money-grubbing and awful my description makes everyone seem. If you liked the "death humor" in Death at a Funeral, you might like this movie.
  • Firefly (live action American TV series) - I don't think there's anything that actually happens in this series that is at all similar to this movie. However, the movie and the show do have actor Alan Tudyk in common, and I am unable to think of other similar movies besides Waking Ned Devine. Alan Tudyk pretty much steals the show in Death at a Funeral, and of all the actors and actresses in this movie I know him best, so I'm going to decide it's okay to add this show to the list just on the basis of a similar actor. Tudyk gets to be a little goofy in Firefly (he plays with dinosaurs), but it's not the non-stop goofiness of Death at a Funeral. In Firefly, Tudyk plays the pilot of a space ship with two former soldiers turned thieves, a trigger-happy thug, a preacher with a past, a doctor and his crazy sister, a cute mechanic, and a courtesan.

I try to only list similar movies I've already seen - since I don't watch a lot besides anime, there's a lot I haven't seen, which is why the above list is so short. Here's a couple links to slightly longer lists of similar movies. I don't think I've ever seen any of them, so I can't say if they're actually similar to this movie, and I can't say if they're any good. Watch them at your own discretion.

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