Death at a Funeral (2007)

This is as near perfect as you can get for a quirky British comedy.  It is all the right ingredients, a very believable setup, ordinary characters in an extraordinary situation, wit, and sarcasm.

Dean Craig who wrote this wonderful little hit, proves if he sets his mind to it he can produce comedic gold.  However when he lets slip, what we end up, is something completely at the other end of the scale, with A Few Best Men.  /shudders/

So the setup here is wonderfully simple. We have a funeral, of a beloved father, at the family home.  It gets kicked off on the wrong foot when the under takers bring the wrong body.   Once that gets resolved, we follow the stories of a number of interwoven characters and their problems.

Alan Tudyk plays the husband-to-be to the daughter, who accidentally takes a cocktail of acid thinking it was Valium to calm his nerves as he prepares to meet his father-in-law to be.   His acting for this role alone should have won him a series of awards.  It is absolutely brilliant.

Then we have

Peter Dinklage popping up, as the secret gay lover of the deceased.  He is attempting to extort a little money or some photos get shown to the widow.   So the males of the family attempt to quell this up rising, with much comedic results. 

This movie never fails to raise a smile and always puts me in a good mood.  This one falls under the watch-at-least-once-a-year bucket.   

Though .. why Martin Lawrence felt he had to remake a year later it with an all-black cast for the American audience I have no idea.  A lot got lost in translation with the remake. 

#98 in the series


Viewing Date
Tuesday, 24th November 2015 (Richmond)


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Music and Lyrics (2007)

Full confession, I am a big

Hugh Grant fan.  Ever since he bumbled onto our screens in Four Weddings (I know he had roles before that hit), he has been a natural lead in the romantic comedy genre.   Here we have him playing opposite Drew Barrymore.

The story is a clever setup .. Grant is playing an aging 1980s popstar who has had his best days behind him, making a living now from doing nostalgia tours of his old hits.  He is roped into writing a song for a modern day teenage sensation but he gets a little writers block.   This is where Barrymore comes in.  She is the emergency plant watering lady that comes in to his flat and ends up helping him finish the song.

Chris Riley: Why do you have a plant lady? Why do you even have plants?
Alex Fletcher: Because, from time to time, ladies accompany me back to the apartment and one of them once mentioned that plants make women comfortable.
Chris Riley: Is that true? Plants make women comfortable? Well, maybe if I had plants I’d still be married.
Alex Fletcher: Yes, I think that was the problem; not Susan’s affair and raging nymphomania but your lack of vegetation.

The dialogue is extremely witty with Grant having some real clever lines to deliver.  There is a lot going on in the background when the characters are interacting.  There is a beautiful wee routine where she comes in an puts her coat on his piano and then he moves it, and then she moves it back.  It was beautifully executed very natural.

Brad Garrett plays his long suffering manager with 

Kristen Johnston taking on the role of Barrymore’s sister who was infatuated with Grant when she was growing up.  Extremely amusing.

If you are a Hugh Grant fan and want a good laugh, then you can’t go wrong with this outing.  It is flawed for sure, but on the whole it trundles along just nicely.

#83 in the series


Viewing Date
Monday, 9th November 2015 (Cary, NC)


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Charlie Wilson’s War (2007)

The movie opens up with Tom Hanks, playing US Texas congressman Charlie Wilson, sitting in a hot tub, with naked women, in Las Vegas, drinking.  While this hedonism is going on he still finds time to allow the news that is on the TV behind to draw his attention.   Charlie flies under the radar being a congressman that doesn’t create any waves, votes the way he is asked (or who is willing to slip him some incentives) and in return, his office staffed near exclusively with young beautiful women, drinking and the occasional drug taking doesn’t raise any eyebrows.  Charlie is someone everyone knows and has a number of favours uncashed around town.

Based on a true story, it evolves around the Afghanistan conflict and how the Russians are walking all over the local people with their superior fire power.  There doesn’t seem to be a huge appetite from the US to do anything more than pay lip service with a very under whelming budget.

Charlie Wilson: You mean to tell me that the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan is to have the Afghans keep walking into machine gun fire ‘til the Russians run out of bullets?
Gust Avrakotos: That’s Harold Holt’s strategy, it’s not U.S. strategy.
Charlie Wilson: What is U.S. strategy?
Gust Avrakotos: Well, strictly speaking, we don’t have one. But we’re working hard on that.
Charlie Wilson: Who’s ‘we’?
Gust Avrakotos: Me and three other guys.

Texas socialite and fundamentalist Christian Joanne Herring (Julia Roberts) who is a close (very) friend to Charlie is not happy with the Afghan situation and persuades to Charlie to use his influence to help.

Charlie starts to go through the official channels and the CIA are just not that interested.  Knowing they simply can’t ignore a congressman, they pacify him by sending a grumpy and frustrated agent, Gust Avrakotos (Philip Seymour Hoffman), who has no time for Charlie’s antics and does not take him seriously.

We are reminded just how great an actor Hoffman was, as he plays to perfection this cantankerous CIA agent that is wanting to do something instead of toeing the company line.

Keep an eye out for the scene when Charlie and Gust meet for the first time at Charlie’s office and the bottle of whisky brought as a warming present.  Both Hanks and Hoffman at the top of their game with this fast paced moving interplay.

Charlie Wilson: You’re no James Bond.
Gust Avrakotos: You’re no Thomas Jefferson, either. Let’s call it even.

Charlie see’s for himself the real suffering that is going on in

Afghanistan and then throws himself at the problem, working every angle possible, brokering deals and flying all over the middle east in an official unofficial capacity.

The movie moves along at a wonderful pace allowing Tom Hanks to do that thing he does – makes you believe completely he is the character he is playing and forget every other character he has ever played.   For me, Julia Roberts didn’t work as the power behind the men.  She didn’t look right.  Though there is a small irony here of course, as the real life Joanne Herring did indeed look like this!

A highly enjoyable evening that gives you an insight into a story that is remarkable close to the truth (if the Wikipedia page on Charlie Wilson is to be trusted).


Viewing Date
Monday, 14th September 2015


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