Death at a Funeral
Frank Oz (the voice of Miss Piggy) in his other life as a director, has given us Little Shop of Horrors and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, two of my all-time favorites, and HouseSitter, another good one, though not quite on a par with the first two. This movie is more on that scale. We laughed a lot. No point getting into plot, as there isn’t much of it, only set-up and elaboration. A group of family and friends get together at a very nice country cottage in England for the funeral of the father of two brothers who don’t get along well. It starts slowly, but that’s all right, you have to get to know this large cast of people, each with his or her own agenda, and this is done smoothly in a series of small sketches. Then the fun begins. Who is that dwarf, and why is than naked man standing on the roof? There’s a certain amount of gross-out humor, but nothing like we’ve seen in other recent comedies.
I have to mention Peter Dinklage. I have liked this little dude every since his starring role in The Station Agent and hilarious turn as a very angry elf in Elf. He just keeps getting better. He is so expressive with his face, and can make the smallest shrug or gesture carry a lot of weight. He is very good here. And I was so happy to see him, a few years ago, playing a part that had absolutely nothing to do with being a dwarf. This was in Sidney Lumet’s Find Me Guilty, where he played a defense lawyer. Kudos to Lumet for his casting wisdom.
One aside: Jane Asher plays the mother of the two sons. Both Lee and I were sure we’d heard the name, and we were both right, in different contexts. She impressed me with a small, poignant part in the original Alfie (the only one worth seeing). And she was engaged for a while to Paul McCartney. Some even called her his muse. They say “Here, There and Everywhere” was written to her.
Second aside: There is a fair amount of whispering early on in this movie. Whispering in the movies is never my favorite thing, unless the sound engineer understands that it should be a stage whisper, that is, one that can be heard in the last row of the balcony. Such a thing is possible, just ask any good stage actor. Alas, whispering in a British accent becomes damn near indecipherable to me. I had to turn on the English subtitles.