by Adam Bregman
In contrast to all the cutesy Full Monty-esque and Billy Elliott-inspired British comedies with peach-cheeked children and working-class louts overcoming adversity to soaring violin scores comes this old-fashioned slapstick comedy that has not even a tinge of sweetness at heart. Rather, the humor in Death at a Funeral builds on the appalling circumstances of a funeral at which the wrong body is delivered, a mysterious midget shows up demanding a share of the estate and one attendee is dosed with a hallucinogen that causes him to insist that the coffin is moving. Each of Death at a Funeral's gags is funnier and more unsettling than the last. An adept cast of British actors (which will be mostly unfamiliar to American audiences) flawlessly tackles jokes that are occasionally subtle, but more often depraved. Borrowing from Fawlty Towers, screenwriter Dean Craig and director Frank Oz are not at all shy about possibly offending midgets, the elderly or the dead. From a hilariously insipid rambling eulogy to a naked man on the roof, this funeral turns into a demented upper-class riot.
Showing at the Main Art Theatre 118 N. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-263-2111.
Adam Bregman is a freelance writer. Send comments to email@example.com.