Top critical review
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"Have you seen a valium bottle?"
on 20 September 2010
This British comedy set in a house hosting a funeral with a small central cast has the feel of a stage production about it. At first it seems that the performances and scenarios are a tad over-the-top (more as you'd expect from a theatre performance) but the main character Daniel is grounded in reality and stops the film from descending into the ridiculous.
Daniel is the loyal son whose father is being buried, he's organised (and forked out for) the funeral and is dealing not only with his grief, but also with living in the shadow of his brother, a successful novelist whom everyone is very excited to meet. Just as it looks like this is going to become a very bland middle-class comedy drama, a series of events turn the day into a farce and the results are often genuinely funny. The film impressively manages to not become overly sentimental; with the strained relationship between two brothers being a key plotline it would have been easy to have become sanctimonious cheese but it avoids it.
A toilet incident, hallucinogenic drugs, and a blackmailing dwarf all manage to add humour but it has to be said that you see each joke coming. As long as you don't expect too much from the film and accept that this is a slow flick which gathers pace halfway through rather than ground-breaking British comedy, then you'll be able to enjoy it for what it is.
In a nutshell: A comedy which succeeds in making you laugh, it doesn't show you anything particularly new but this is still an entertaining film. I've not yet seen the American remake but I suspect it isn't as well acted or as subtle when it comes to the emotional side of things.