“Death at a Funeral,” review by Susan Granger

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It’s a most unusual funeral when the coffin is delivered with the wrong body inside of it – and that’s just the beginning of this farce set in a small, bucolic town in England.

Soft-spoken, dutiful Daniel (Matthew Macfadyen), the underappreciated son, is handling all the arrangements for the funeral of his father. His brother Robert (Rupert Graves), a successful novelist, flies in from New York and realizes that a terrible mistake has been made. Meanwhile, Daniel’s wife Jane (Keeley Hawes) is determined that Robert take his newly widowed mother (Jane Asher) back to America, so that she can move with Daniel into their new London flat.

Cousin Martha (Daisy Donovan) has brought along her flustered fiancé Simon (Alan Tudyk) – who accidentally swallowed an LSD tablet instead of Valium, the fault of her aspiring pharmacist brother, Troy (Kris Marshall) – to introduce to her snobbish father (Peter Egan). Martha’s ex, Justin (Ewen Bremmer), is there, along with a hypochondriac Howard (Andy Nyman) and wheelchair-bound Uncle Alfie (Peter Vaughn).

There’s the appearance of a mysterious mourner (Peter Dinklage) who arrives with a tawdry revelation about the deceased, complete with compromising photos – to the impatience of the vicar (Thomas Wheatley).

Written by Dean Craig (“Caffeine”) and directed by Frank Oz (“Bowfinger,” “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,”), who was born in Great Britain before joining Jim Henson and becoming a famous Muppeteer in America. It’s an ensemble comedy that’s stronger in exaggerated situational humor than its eccentric yet one-dimensional characterizations. Best remembered as dashing Mr. Darcy opposite Keira Knightly in “Pride and Prejudice,” Matthew Macfadyen transforms into diligently dowdy here. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Death at a Funeral” is a silly, screwball 7 – for those who enjoy droll British humor.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.