Death At A Funeral (Blu-ray Review)

From acclaimed director Frank Oz (Bowfinger, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) comes a fast and furious farce about life, death, and the strange family dynamics that every family has! As the mourners and guests at a British country manor struggle valiantly to “keep a stiff upper lip,” a dignified ceremony devolves into a hilarious, no-holds-barred debacle of misplaced cadavers, indecent exposure, and shocking family secrets.  With a fantastic ensemble cast, this is a darkly comic movie that was so good that it spawned a remake just three years after it came out.



On the day of his father’s funeral that’s to take place at the family county home estate in England, Daniel (Matthew McFadyen) not only mourning his late father but he’s also stressed out about his financial situation.  His wife Jane (Keeley Hawes who is also his real wife), has been pushing him to put a down payment on a new place to live but she doesn’t realize that he hasn’t done it because he’s had to use the money to pay for the funeral.  Daniel is counting on the hope that when his  brother Robert (Rupert Graves) arrives, he will at least pay for half of the funeral since he is a famous novelist. Unfortunately for Daniel, Robert is terrible with money and he decided to spend his last remaining money to fly to England first class.  This news is just part of a terrible day of trouble for Daniel who started it by having the wrong body delivered by the funeral home.

Once his father’s body is finally delivered, the rest of the family and friends start to show up and each of them has their own issues too.  There’s the crotchety old Uncle Alfie (Peter Vaughan) that’s abusive to everyone, an arrogant loser named Justin (Ewen Bremner) who spends his time at the funeral stalking Martha (Daisy Donovan) who’s fiancee Simon (Alan Tudyk) struggles with being accidentally drugged out of his mind.  Then there’s they hypochondriac Howard (Andy Nyman) who thinks he has everything and who has to and would be drug manufacturer Troy (Kris Marshall) dealing with the cantankerous  Uncle Alfie.  With all of this going on, the family is already in trouble, but when a dwarf named Peter (Peter Dinklage) arrives with some shocking news, it’s just a matter of time before everything spirals out of control which it eventually does in a spectacularly funny way.

While I haven’t seen the remake of this yet, I’m willing to bet that it’s a loud and overblown copy of this which misses the point of why this movie is so good.  The humor from this is based on the characters themselves and seeing how they deal with an every increasing disaster.  Director Frank Oz is no stranger to sharp funny movies that contain a lot of dark humor and he excels here too.  The slow build up of the tension as more and more goes on is masterfully done and he makes sure that the humor doesn’t peak too early and instead gives the audience multiple times to laugh before bringing down the house with the hilarious climax.

Oz is aided greatly by an excellent cast that seems perfectly cast for their roles.  McFadyen in particular had the trickiest role to play as the bewildered Daniel who has to play the straight man while chaos circles around him.  He’s so versatile that I didn’t even know this was the same actor that played the Sheriff in Nottingham in Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood.  Andy Nyman also provided a lot of laughs especially in one of the movie’s main funny sequences where he’s hypochondria is pushed past his limits in an oh so wrong scene with Uncle Alfie that could have come right out of a Farrelly Brothers movie.

Peter Dinklage is also great in his pivotal role that acts as a spark to the powder keg of trouble.  Special mention should also be given to the fantastic Alan Tudyk who is good in everything he does (especially Firefly!), and this role allows him to show off his talent for physical comedy.  Seeing poor Simon try to keep it together and impress his fiancee’s father while on LSD is painfully funny to watch.  The great thing about this movie is that it’s a perfect blend of comedy styles as there’s dry humor, dark humor, scatological humor, slapstick, and politically incorrect humor as well.  It’s hard to pull off one of those successfully, but this movie not only did that but alternated between them well too.  That kind of high wire balancing act is almost impossible to pull off unless you are a master at the form like Frank Oz.


The film’s 1080p (1.85:1) transfer is pretty good with some nice sharpness and detail overall.  There are some shots that looked a little soft to me but as a whole it had a nice image.  Colors are pleasing to the eye but flesh tones seem to be a little warmer than I would have liked as they tended to be on the pinkish side.  Black levels are decent and fairly dark with some acceptable contrast as well.  The film has a nice clean image with no defects visible and I think most people would be happy with it.


Death at a Funeral’s DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is typical for comedy movies since it’s a mostly front speaker driven affair.  The rear speakers are hardly used at all as is the LFE channel.  On the other hand, this is a comedy movie so as long as the dialogue is clear and sounds good that should be all that’s needed and fortunately that’s the case here.  Murray Gold’s score gets better treatment than the dialogue as it is shared by more than the front speakers.  Judging this mix on it’s own basis, I think it sounded pretty good.

Special Features  

I wish there were more extras on this disc than there are, but what is here is good stuff.  While the trailer is in high definition the gag reel is not.

  • Audio Commentary with Frank Oz – The first track is with Director Frank Oz who spends his entire track heaping praise on his cast and crew.  While it’s great to hear what a great guy he is and how generous he is with his comments, I wish he had been a little less effusive about the cast and had spent more time talking about more than just what was happening on the screen.  For someone with his remarkable professional history and knowledge, he could teach a master class about comedy and I wish his commentary had been more along the lines of that.
  • Audio Commentary with Dean Craig, Alan Tudyk and Andy Nyman –  This track was my favorite of the two, as Craig offered more background info on his script and Tudyk and Nyman are very funny to listen to.  Hearing their thoughts on the funny scenes in the movie was just as funny as the movie itself.
  • Gag Reel – This is a little over seven minutes long and shows the cast trying to keep it together while filming.  It looks like they all had a great time filming this movie and this was funny to watch.
  • Theatrical Trailer

Final Thoughts  

I highly recommend this movie to fans of comedy everywhere! I might watch the remake of this but I can’t imagine anyone topping this cast or this version of the movie.  Seeing this, it just makes me wish that Frank Oz would direct movies more frequently!

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2 Responses to “Death At A Funeral (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Gerard Iribe

    I have the German HD-DVD import of this flick. Love the original. The trailer of the remake made me laugh, so I will Netflix that one.

  2. Sean Ferguson

    I’m glad you watched the original one first since the remake looks like a shot by shot remake for the most part.