Eulogy Michael Clancy

The kiss of death in the film industry is hearing the words "straight to DVD." Eulogy, a black comedy about a dysfunctional family gathering to bid farewell to their father/grandfather, had a lot of promise that should have kept it from such a fate. Featuring a more than impressive and capable cast — Ray Romano, Hank Azaria, Debra Winger, Rip Torn and Zooey Deschanel — on paper it had "charming little independent favourite" written all over it. However, that isn't the case on celluloid. First and foremost, the biggest problem with Clancy's full-length directorial debut is that he wrote a script for some true comedic talent that is simply too flat and just not humorous enough. Mixing in plenty of "hook, line and sinker" gimme jokes about sexuality (lesbianism, porn), suicide and death, and of course, the dysfunctional family unit, nothing really hits the funny bone, even with beloved comedians like Romano and Azaria working their magic in the slight roles they're given. It's difficult to even locate much of a plot — a family gathers for a funeral and plenty of predictable and half-baked mischievous antics occur — but the closure at the end, once everyone has forgiven Torn's character for his secret (one that is more scarring in real life than it is laughable in this film) seems very unfulfilling, quick and empty. Even the always-lovable Deschanel fails to make a difference as the only family member who gives the smallest damn that a human being — her loving grandfather — has passed away. Clancy's work behind the camera hardly fares any better, especially in the ridiculously feigned scene where Piper Laurie's character attempts to commit suicide by jumping out of a moving vehicle, only to fly through the air and land on her granddaughter making out with a boy. Eulogy is a terribly disappointing film that finds a Grade A cast doing Grade D work. In the end, you'll not only appreciate your family a lot more, but also take a second look at the actors involved and question why they would be part of such a pitiable film. Plus: deleted and extended scenes. (Lions Gate)