After unwisely hitching up with those costly Stepford Wives, director Frank Oz gets drawing-room small with a proper English farce set solely within the confines of a country house, where frumpy, grumpy Daniel (Matthew Macfadyen), his bestselling bro Robert (Rupert Graves), and their family and friends have come to bury their father. Like Oz’s best films (
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, What About Bob?, and Bowfinger), Funeral
obscures its sincerity behind a veil of misanthropy; before we can get to the touching eulogy, we first must encounter an accidentally acid-doused attorney (Alan Tudyk) and his exasperated fiancée (Daisy Donovan), a cranky wheelchair-bound uncle in dire need of a crapper (Peter Vaughan), a short American possessing dark secrets about dear ol’ dead dad (Peter Dinklage), and assorted other relatives with little tea left in their bags. Yet for all its spot-on performances (Macfadyen’s particularly good), clever dialogue, and wacky gags—Tudyk winds up extremely naked on a rooftop just before Dinklage winds up riding shotgun in a coffin—
Death at a Funeral never even approaches the best of Oz’s oeuvre. It’s his first movie that begs for the laugh track; they’ll love it on BBC America.