A little closet at a big send-off delivers huge laughs
The best (and most) British comedy in years has been made by England-born American Frank Oz. “Death at a Funeral” starts with ripples of laughter, which build to waves, which swell to better start building an ark.
The deceased left a widow, Sandra (Jane Asher), and two sons, Daniel (Matthew Macfadyen) and Robert (Rupert Graves).
Martha (Daisy Donovan), Sandra’s niece, brings her fianc?, Simon (Alan Tudyk), to the funeral, knowing her father will be upset to learn they’re engaged. En route, they pick up Troy (Kris Marshall), Martha’s drug-dealing brother. When Simon unwittingly ingests one of his homemade hallucinogens, it gives Tudyk license to steal most of the picture with hilarious stoner shtick.
Peter (Peter Dinklage), a stranger, introduces himself to Daniel as “a friend of your father.” Astute viewers especially gay ones should guess his secret before he reveals it.
You may never sort out everyone’s place on the family tree, but it’s not important. Once events are set in motion, there are usually several things happening in any one scene. Oz orchestrates everything to perfection.
You’ll have to see for yourself whether the title, “Death at a Funeral,” refers to a literal death or just the likelihood that you’ll die laughing.
Opens Aug. 17 in wide release.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 17, 2007