Funerals don’t always go as planned and being part of a family isn’t always easy. This movie is a comedy with elements of farce, but it also has some very touching, serious and moving moments. As Frank Oz (the director – yup, the guy from the Muppets) stated “it’s ok to not be funny in a comedy”. Which is what I really liked about it. There is a nice balance between believable real life moments and total craziness. Not like many comedies that just try to beat you over the head with “look how funny I am” but don’t have any heart to them.
First off I just want to say that the entire cast in this movie was just incredible. They played off each other so well. The timing, mannerisms and delivery of lines were just spot on. There wasn’t a weak link in the bunch. However, the lead actor Matthew MacFadyen (Daniel) and Alan Tudyk (Simon) deserve special mention.
Daniel was really the grounding character in the movie. He is reserved, passive, insecure and self-conscious. He is a guy in need of a really big hug and someone to tell him what a great person he is. Matthew plays him spectacularly. His performance is subtle and restrained. You can feel the emotion coming off him and can really identify with his character and his struggles throughout the movie.
On the flip side is Simon (aka the naked guy on the DVD cover). Let’s just say he is having a bit of a perception problem. Which causes him to act in very unusual ways. Alan is absolutely hysterical. He has incredible comedy timing and can swing back and forth from absolute insanity to real honest emotion. Alan is probably best known as Wash from the TV show “Firefly” and the movie “Serenity” (Joss Whedon strikes again).
Apparently, in many scenes Frank didn’t give him any direction about what to do, he would say “just be funny” and let Alan loose. Some great moments came from that. For example the scenes involving chicken shaped yard decorations, a hedge and a woman’s hat. This movie is worth it for his performance alone.
I thought the animated title sequence at the beginning of the movie with the coffin moving along the road was very clever. According to Frank Oz the only reason it exists was because the movie was a little too short and they needed to add a couple of minutes to it. He ended up being happy that they did.
By the way, just in case it isn’t obvious, it’s never a good idea to ask someone if they think they will marry again when you are at the funeral for their husband.
The extras on the DVD are worth checking out. I found the audio commentary by Frank Oz to be very interesting and informative. He talks about the actors and the characters, as well as, why he made some of the choices he did. The other commentary is fun. It has the screenwriter and two of the actors, giving their insight on the movie. The gag reel makes you wonder how the movie was ever finished, since it pretty much consists of people cracking up when they are trying to do their lines. I couldn’t help but laugh along with them.
Some quotes I liked:
Robert – “Well, this is bloody grim isn’t it.”
Daniel – “It’s not supposed to be fun Robert.”
Robert – “This is why I prefer not to have close relationships with people … it’s too much emotion involved.”
Sandra – “Tea can do many things Jane, but it can’t bring back the dead.”
Troy – “Who just goes into someone’s flat and just takes random pills?”
Simon – “Did you just see that … the coffin, it just moved!”
Simon – “Why are my hands so big?”
Jane – “F*cking men.”
Martha – “Tell me about it.”
Troy – “What’s his name?”
Howard – “I don’t know … try Phillip.”
Troy – “They didn’t notice him? He’s four f*cking feet tall!”
Howard – “Hello Reverend … Hi … Hi … How is God today?”
Jane – “No, it’s been sort of exciting isn’t it … for a funeral I mean.”
Robert – “On the positive side, now she knows why it’s been so long since she and Dad had sex.”
One more thing, I have heard that they are doing an American remake of this movie. I am horrified by the thought of that. First, this movie is from 2007 … why does it need a remake? Secondly, 99% of British comedies that are “remade” for America really suck. Why do people feel the need to screw with something that already works?
Following is additional information about the movie that contains spoilers. If you don’t want to be spoiled don’t read any further.
I love the scene in the study when the four guys are discussing the pills that were given to Peter and whether or not they think they will kill him. Peter Dinklage’s expressions when he is lying on the floor all tied up and gagged are so perfect. That scene is incredibly funny.
Simon and Martha’s interaction on the roof is wonderful. To go from crazy naked guy climbing around on the roof to the touching scene of Martha telling Simon she is pregnant and seeing his reaction is just a great idea. It also shows what a terrific actor Alan Tudyk is. To immediately make such a drastic change in emotion within a scene (and make it believable) is very difficult, however, he has no problem accomplishing it.
One of the scenes that gets to me the most is towards the end of the movie when Daniel makes a very sincere and heartfelt eulogy for his Dad. He finally gives up on his dry, scripted one and says what he really feels. By doing this he captures everyone’s attention and they finally start to see who Daniel really is (I was so proud of him). Matthew MacFadyen totally nailed this scene, it was amazing.