DVD Review: Death at a Funeral

Movie ••• Picture •••• Sound •••½ Extras ••½

If you like English comedies of manners, you'll like this movie. It features an impeccable cast acting a tightly knit script that provides much amusement - if not any belly laughs. Well, belly laughs would be improper for an English comedy about a funeral. Although this movie does descend into farce and slapstick at times, its overall mood is whimsy. The characters are endearing, and we tend to laugh more with them than at them.

The setup is that the father of Daniel (Matthew Macfadyen) has passed away, and there's to be a viewing and reception. Daniel's mother, the not-too-grieving widow (Jane Asher), wants to get on with it and be on with her life. But of course, things happen - strange things. Without giving too much away, I can say that one guest (Alan Tudyk) is as high as a kite and ends up naked on the roof. Another is an uninvited, charming, but ominous fellow (Peter Dinklage) who sets in motion the main conflict from which most of the humor evolves.

On DVD, colors are very natural, and the picture has good definition. The sound is mostly up front and does well by the dialogue and the lighthearted score. I did have trouble catching a few lines, but that was because of the accents, not the sound mix. If you want to be sure to catch every single word, you can always restart a scene and turn on the subtitles.

There are two commentaries. One is with director Frank Oz, who spends a lot of time telling you where (and sometimes how) each scene was filmed. The other, more irreverent commentary is by Tudyk with fellow actor Andy Nyman and screenwriter Dean Craig. There's nothing else here except for a gag reel and some trailers for other titles, including something called MGM Means Great Movies, which is actually a pleasant discovery. It features tightly edited highlights from a large number of the studio's films, and all are so sharp and clean that they seem to have been newly transferred.

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