The easiest way to describe this film is to imagine ‘Four Weddings & A Funeral’ without the weddings. It’s a character-driven funeral farce that draws a large proportion of it’s comedy from the determination of the English stereotype to keep a stiff-upper lip under the most extreme of circumstances.
Daniel (Matthew Macfadyen) is desperate to move into his own place with his wife, Jane (Keeley Hawes). When his father dies his mother (Jane Asher) is unable to cope and they are left to organise the funeral for a whole bunch of dysfunctional family members and friends.
With each family member we are introduced to another unwelcome character trait and, in turn, another twist to the fiendish plot emerges. Andy Nyman puts in a notable performance as a downtrodden and insecure hypochondriac who’s determined to be the centre of attention without causing offence; whilst Rupert Graves should be applauded for his serene portrayal of a painfully selfish brother for Macfadyen to bounce his character off. However, the majority of laughs are reserved for Alan Tudyk and his incredible range of facial acting skills as he brings the torment of a featherweight’s first experience with narcotics to life. “Why are my hands so… big?” he whines, so kick-starting another chorus of audience laughter.
Frank Oz directs and his consummate comic timing and pace are very much in evidence as he weaves Dean Craig’s savvy script into shape. There are moments when the humour becomes clichéd but it’s not so distracting as to diminish the impact of the film. The one thing that makes this stand out from many of this year’s comedies is the fact that it never takes itself too seriously. It’s just a clever and outstandingly witty British film, big on modesty and delightful in delivery.
Commissioned by Local Secrets online magazine...
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