Frank Ozs follow up to 2004s remake of The Stepford Wives sees him back on familiar territory, with a quintessentially British comedy about death, family secrets and two men wrestling with a midget.
James Macfayden plays Daniel, an aspiring playwright still living in the family home with his wife Jane (Keeley Hawes. Upon the death of his father, Daniel is forced into the role of organising the funeral. This includes a reunion with his brother Robert (played brilliantly by Rupert Graves), a successful writer who has somewhat left the nest and flies in from his base in New York. The two argue over each others dedication to their deceased father whilst still keeping a sense of gloom to the other attendees.
Also out to make an impression is Martha (played by satire TV host Daisy Donavan) who is desperate for her own father to approve of her relationship with fianc Simon (Alan Tudyk) only to discover that hes accidentally under the influence of hallucigenics following a visit to Marthas brother Troy (Kris Marshall) with predictably comical results. Not only that, shes also having to put up with Howard (Ewen Bremner), a former one-night stand who just wont take the hint.
If this that wasnt bad enough, a stranger roams the service (played by Peter Dinklage, most famously seen on our screens in 2004s The Station Agent) who has come to the service with a dark secret regarding the deceased that is set to turn everything upside down.
While some character’s relationships are believable and heart-warming, such as Martha and Simons display of affection, those of Daniel and Jane just dont wash and little is demonstrated of any commitment between them other than the odd mention of flimsy plans to buy a flat together. The idea of them being in love is highly unbelievable and chemistry is non-existent.
Even more bewildering is that of the pointlessly-cast, lovesick Bremner, whose accent appears to slip from Scottish / American / English at the drop of the proverbial hat whilst Marshall as the zany Chemistry student is nothing more than the exact character hes played in various poor BBC comedies and those bloody British Telecom adverts. Much better is the criminally underused Peter Dinklage, who manages to out-charisma his fellow cast members despite only spouting a few lines of dialogue in the whole movie.
If you can see past the predictable chaotic climax and the schmaltzy Its ok to fuck up conclusion, this is a charming and never less-than-watchable comedy which would be ideal for a hazy hung-over Sunday afternoon and worth it just to see Tudyk gurning his way through a rosebush.