Published Oct 12, 2007For no useful reason, its become apparent to me that Frank Ozs films deal with deception and identity. From the con/reverse-con intrigue of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and the lies in the closet of In and Out to the shrink/patient role transference of What About Bob?, his films all deal with the sham of public identity versus the truth of the private one.
The success of his films depends on whether the play of roles is intricate and the secrets worth revealing, which isnt so in his latest, Death at a Funeral. This dinner theatre farce hinges on the fact that the deceased patriarch in question was in fact deep in the closet, having an affair with one Peter (Peter Dinklage). These developments prove most unpleasant for good son Daniel (Matthew Macfayden), whos got to hush up the blackmailing interloper despite his own lesser sibling status and tenuous financial position.
Of course, this is merely the planet around which various allegedly hilarious family embarrassments orbit, including bad blood with famed novelist brother Rupert Graves, bad juju with an old mans runny faeces and, in the one bright spot, bad acid unduly affecting poor Alan Tudyk. The film depends on you holding absolute faith in the naughtiness of burlesquing at a funeral and some shop-worn "so true insights about family, but youd have to be pretty sheltered to get much jolt out of either.
Though the cast struggles gamely (and Tudyk works wonders with the empty shtick hes handed), the whole thing is so tired that you dont care if the secrets ever come to light. Its a pretty lame entry into the Oz canon, in case you were keeping track, which you most likely werent. (Alliance Films)