Death at a Funeral: DOA Either Way

DATELINE: British or Black?

Dinklage (with friend in coffin) Dinklage with Friend in Coffin

In case you did not realize, there are two versions of this movie, made within a few years of each other. The first was your classic British dark comedy, and the second is your black-face remake in American ghetto mode.

Both movies are called Death at a Funeral, which certainly makes sense when you see how it all plays out. The Brit version is from 2007, and the American from 2010.

You can flip a coin, or perhaps you prefer Ivory-Merchant to Madea.

We went across the pond for ours. There are familiar faces, but we’d probably know more of the cast in the American version. However, one small face stands out in a big part: Peter Dinklage came up to snuff in both films as the blackmailing small guy.

He is rather good, for sure. The rest of the cast is obtuse, but we must confess that Rupert Graves is always a joy as the successful brother returning from America for his father’s sendoff.

We are not sure how funny the central concept is that some poor benighted fools are given LSD by accident by those who think they offer valium. Is that really funny?

Beyond that, there are some jokes about oldsters, women, and sex-starved creeps among the mourners. It’s all directed by Frank Oz, hardly anyone’s idea of Ivory-Merchant, unless you see in big screen Muppet. Peter Dinklage apparently is playing Kermit in this film—and in the other too. He is marvelous.

We aren’t sure how this comes off with Chris Rock, et al, when the British posh types seem more suited for deadpan comedy.




Resurrected in Deerstalker Hat: Sherlock’s Comeback



Downey & Cumberbatch: Will the Real Sherlock Please Stand Up?

Sherlock returned from the dead for American audiences this week.

The 21st century version, with all the clever homages to the original, took off on “The Empty House” with “The Empty Hearse,” to explain a two-year faked death.

Those with suspicious minds have spent the better part of the canon by figuring out the sexual tensions between Holmes and Watson. Mark Gatiss (who also plays Mycroft) writes this interplay with the aplomb of an Oscar Wilde comedy. Watson has nightmares about Sherlock kissing Moriarty.  Not elementary.

Watson has decided to marry a woman during the hiatus—much to the shock of everyone who felt he pined for his lost love.

Holmes may be the most shocked that Watson does not take kindly to being the victim of sado-masochistic sexual hijinks.

How Sherlock faked his death off a tall building in a single bound may be only slightly more ridiculous than surviving a fall off the Reichenbach Falls.

All the delightful supporting cast returns: Mycroft, Lestrade, Mrs. Hudson, Mary Morstan, and Molly, as Holmes must try to work with Watson’s alienated affections.

Perhaps the ploy to win back Watson is even more outrageous than the conspiracy to plot his own demise for Holmes.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman (with a Watsonian mustache for some of the night) are more settled and more perfect in their depictions this third season.

If the show has a failing, it is too clever for its own good. But, it makes the re-watching all the more pleasurable. The season is only three movies, but they cram more into them than twenty episodes of that awful Elementary series or Robert Downey’s flaky movie franchise.

In this series Holmes is an antisocial media star in the 21st century.  Norman Jean Baker used to have to dress up to go out and be “Marilyn.”  Almost as funny is to see the put-upon Holmes put on his deerstalker hat and go out to be “Sherlock” for the enthralled media.


Movie Mashup and Alfred Hitchcock Freshly Showered may be two good books to read. Available on in softcover and paperback.

Holmes Returns to Baker Street in the 21st Century



Best Tandem Since Jeremy Brett and Edward Hardwicke?

Not since Alfred Hitchcock decided to make seven-minute long trailers for Psycho and The Birds has there been a teasing preview like the BBC gives us. Its release on Christmas Eve is a sign that a bright star or two is overhead.

The new Sherlock Holmes (the modern one from England, not the bastardized Americanized one with the female Chinese Watson) will return shortly.

To whet the appetite of the devoted and obsessed, the producers that have not scrimped on clever and brilliantly deduced cases now bring superstars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman back as Holmes and Watson. When they started playing the roles three years ago, they were unknowns. Now they have starred in the biggest movies of the year (Star Trek Into Darkness, The Hobbit).

When last we saw Holmes, he was dead in a massive fall off a tall building. Watson was bereft. Thank heavens they aren’t consenting adults or Watson would be using the needle out of grief.

Lestrade (Rupert Graves) refuses to hear the outlandish speculation that Holmes has survived death and been in the Orient solving crimes, over in Egypt helping the Cairo authorities, and in Brussels sprouting his line of crime solution.

Yet, he brings a few bric-a-brac to his imbibing doctor friend in his newly refurbished digs. Among the artifacts of Holmes that Lestrade has saved is a DVD addressed to Watson. It cleverly teases the good doctor—and the audience.

We know from Arthur Conan Doyle that Holmes survived his mighty fall, but what magic trick he used this time is still an open question.

Many Happy Returns is a short film that will bring joy to the devotees and leave lesser lights in the dark.


 If you enjoy Ossurworld’s comments, you can read his full book of movie critiques in MOVIE MASHUP or in ALFRED HITCHCOCK FRESHLY SHOWERED. Both are available at