Death at a Funeral, the opening film of the 31st Cairo International Film Festival, is a small ensemble British black comedy directed by American filmmaker Frank Oz (“Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, “Bowfinger ) following his last bloated flop “The Stepford Wives.
The opening scene sets the entire mood and tone of the film. A grieving young gentleman awaits the coffin of his deceased father. As he gazes in bereavement at the corpse, he turns back to the funereal home workers and says “This is not my father.
This scene sets off an uproarious chain reaction of events that builds up to an explosive laugh-fest.
The film revolves around a family gathering their friends and relatives to bury their patriarch.
The older son, Daniel (Matthew Macfadyen from “Pride and Prejudice ), is an aspiring novelist living in his father’s house with his young wife Jane. His brother Robert (Rupert Graves of “V for Vendetta ) is a successful author living in New York who is reluctant to pay his share of the funereal expenses.
The multitude of the other amusing characters include a cousin whose husband-to-be tries to make a good impression on his future father in-law. He fails after he pops hallucination pills thinking they are valium. There’s also a germaphobe friend of Daniel who’s obliged to accompany the family’s foul-mouthed aging uncle. The most memorable character is the mysterious friend of Daniel’s father (the show-stealing Peter Dinklage from “The Station Agent ) who holds secrets that will turn the funereal head over heels.
The story of the film sets the quintessential British decorum against episodes and characters that forces the reserved, uptight protagonists to behave otherwise.
While the comedy is hardly original and the majority of the gags were executed in a number of films, they are done with careful precision and superb comic timing that renders the film’s many flaws forgivable. And just when you think things can’t get worse, they do.
“Death at a Funeral is a pure comedy that hits a homerun because its sole intention is to make audiences roar with laughter.