Frank Oz, better known as the voice of Yoda, Fozzie Bear and Miss Piggy, has taken over the director’s chair regularly in his career. Understandably, his first experience as a director was with Jim Henson on The Dark Crystal. Usually helming comedies, Oz went on to direct Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1986), and What About Bob? (1991) among others. Oz, born in Hereford, Herefordshire, England, was at the helm of 2007’s Death at a Funeral, a comedy with a decidedly British flair.

Death at a Funeral (2007)Sandra (Jane Asher) is about to face one of the worst days of her life; her husband’s funeral. As the car carrying the casket arrives at their remote English countryside home, her son Daniel (Matthew MacFadyen) seems ready as he’ll ever be, to face the event. The casket is brought inside and opened for him to take a look. Shocked, he utters, “Who is this man?” A second casket is delivered, but the hilarity has just begun.

Oz, working from a screenplay by Dean Craig, fills the funeral with disasters waiting to happen. Sandra’s other son, Robert (Rupert Graves), a successful novelist now living in New York, waltzes in at the last minute to make an appearance. Daniel, who dreams of being a novelist, and is highly conscious of the fact that everyone’s expecting his brother the wordsmith to give the eulogy, not him.

Guests begin to arrive, and they’re an interesting group. Simon (Alan Tudyk) has mistakenly been given LSD instead of valium and he’s seeing strange things all around him. It’s not the best way to impress the father of his girlfriend, Martha (Daisy Donovan). Profane Uncle Alfie (Peter Vaughan) is unhappy at being treated with less respect than is his due. And who is the odd little man (Peter Dinklage) hanging around the coffin?

Each of the family members have important roles, and the actors all do a great job. Longtime character actor Peter Vaughan is hilarious as the handicapped, profane old man who feels disrespected; he has a great expression for every situation. Alan Tudyk spends most of the film acting like he’s in the midst of a major hallucination. Watching him is Peter Egan, who plays his stiff upper-lip would-be father-in-law. The only American in the group, Peter Dinklage using an accent, is the one whose antics lead to an unforgettable last 30 minutes. Adding to the insanityare Andy Nyman as Howard, the hypochondriac with the undesirable job of performing bathroom duties for Uncle Alfie; Ewan Bremmer as the creepy Justin, who thinks his dubious charm can win back Martha and Kris Marshall as Troy, who hides LSD in his valium bottle.

If Death at a Funeral has a downside it’s the fact that the first half is a bit slow. While there are a few laughs, it’s the second half that’s pure hilarity. So, if you find yourself a bit bored, stick around for the second half. The payoff is worth it.

Presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, Death at a Funeral features a fairly muted color palette. Set in a funeral parlor, much of the surroundings are darker, and the characters are wearing dark clothing. The outdoor scenes offer up a lot of nice greens. Other colors, most notably in the hazy sky and the back room’s red wallpaper, don’t pack quite the same punch. However, they seem intentionally muted and are still more than acceptable. Blacks are well represented: inky and deep. While there are a few soft shots, this is a solid presentation.

The DTS-HD Master Audio track must support dialogue, and occasional atmospherics. Unfortunately, the dialogue seems muted at times, and you may find yourself having to intermittently pump up the volume. In the reverse, the score occasionally sounds overpowering. All in all, this is an unbalanced mix.

We get the following special features:

  • Commentary by director Frank Oz: Oz shares plenty of behind-the-scenes tidbits, including the editing trick of having shot the exteriors on location, but the interiors on a set (something he reiterates a lot).
  • Commentary by writer Dean Craig, and actors Alan Tudyk and Andy Nyman: The less informative of the tracks, Craig has a lot of fun goofing off with the actors about different scenes.
  • Gag reel (7 minutes): The typical on set antics we’ve come to expect.
  • Theatrical trailer