Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on July 2009
This dark British farce by off-kilter Yank director Frank Oz (In & Out, Bowfinger) starts out—what’s the word?—frightfully slowly. But have patience, because it’s just calmly introducing you to its characters and building up momentum for its manic, very funny conclusion. Think of every possible thing that could go wrong at an upper/middle-class, stiff-upper-lip funeral of a respected patriarch, and this delightfully undignified comedy of embarrassment throws in a few more, as well as a sprinkling of those always-amusing Brit eccentrics. The gently bent humor is both slapstick and verbal, sometimes even slightly gross-out, and all superbly timed. The funniest subplot involves a nervous young man (Alan Tudyk) being given LSD, thinking it’s valium, as he prepares to meet his girlfriend’s stuffy family. The ensemble cast includes Matthew Macfadyen, Ewen Bremner, Peter Vaughan and Andy Nyman. Pivotal is wild-card American guest Peter Dinklage (The Station Agent), a dwarf nobody at the event knows, who has brought along a few nasty surprises of his own. It’s not easy being sophisticated, inane and dark in the same movie. P.S. Try to avoid seeing the spoiler-filled trailers or advertisements for this one.