Saturday, September 01, 2007

Death at a Funeral: More like a short nap....

I didn't dislike the recent, Frank Oz-directed Death at a Funeral; dazed by the heat, I felt that seeing the new Jet Li movie War was more than I could handle. I wanted diversion and amusement. I got it, but just.

The film's been out for a while so I won't go into much detail. Suffice it to say that this is British humor, both broad and gentle, and the premise (who has not participated in craziness at a family funeral) is promising. But the main gags -- Valium that isn't, and a dead man's secret -- wear out rather sooner than does the film's running time. The cast is game, with numerous barely recognizable British actors joined by Americans Peter Dinklage and Alan Tudyk, who has a hilarious turn as a solicitor sent round the bend by the non-Valium. Kris Marshall is excellent as the source of the homemade pharmaceuticals. And my day was cheered immensely by the beauteous Jane Asher as the materfamilias; she doesn't have enough lines, but delivers the few putdowns she has with great panache.

Special bonus points to me for: Recognizing the British (excuse me, naturalized Canadian) actor John Neville -- the "Well-Manicured Man" from The X-Files -- among the mourners in the outdoor scenes. He's uncredited, but look carefully and you won't miss him.

I suppose the fact that I got excited about seeing John Neville proves that Death at a Funeral didn't wholly capture my attention. This heat is going to continue; I may spend tomorrow afternoon with Jet Li.

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