Funny funeral

Manjula Padmanabhan | Updated on May 11, 2018 Published on May 11, 2018

“But I don’t believe in movies!” exclaims Bins. “Even Death At A Funeral?” I ask. It’s a 10-year-old film that I've seen before. “Already I hate it,” he says. “Sounds like a gloomy east European morgue-drama.” I tell him it’s English and idiotically funny. “Pah,” he says. “Making fun of people when they’re mourning! Bad taste.”

I decide to override his objections and set my computer up for watching online. The title sequence shows a cartoon coffin traveling along a route map. I begin to chuckle as Bins says, frowning like a thunder cloud, “You’re laughing for NO reason. It’s because you expect a comedy, not because there’s anything funny about a small black box moving along a dotted line!” I tell him to stop being such a grinch.

The movie begins in a well-appointed home. Daniel, the younger son of the man who has died, is struggling with grief just as the hearse arrives from the funeral parlour. The coffin is carried into the front room with due solemnity but — oh no! The undertakers have brought the wrong body! Bins snarls at the screen. “That is terrible. Can you imagine? The sadness of the family? It’s not funny! I don’t understand the humour!”

Meanwhile, the guests are on their way. Martha, a nervy young woman, is bringing her fiancé, Simon to meet her father for the first time. But instead of taking a Valium to calm his nerves, Simon swallows a hallucinogen by mistake. They arrive at the funeral, he staggers out of the car and immediately jams his head into the nearest hedge. I am cackling like a hyena by now. Bins gets angrier. “See? They are making fun of addicts and drug overdoses! It is cruel! Ridiculous! We should stop watching at once!”

Of course, we do not. Alan Tudyk, the American actor who plays Simon, contorts his face into such a range of expressions, it’s like watching a circus made up of a nose, a mouth and two bulging blue eyes. By the time he locks himself into a bathroom and starts talking to the toilet paper, I am rolling on the floor. Bins scowls at the screen. “This is why the world is in such a mess,” he intones, gravely. “Personal tragedies become comedy targets. You have no kindness, no sympathy ...”

Peter Dinklage, the star of Game of Thrones turns up as — oops! Spoiler alert! — the secret gay lover of the dead man. He has a sheaf of pornographic photographs to use as blackmail. While Simon disrobes and prances naked on the roof, Daniel and others struggle madly to suppress the rogue gay lover. Meanwhile, potty-mouthed invalid Uncle Alfie befouls himself and other guests en route to the toilet.

I roar and howl while Bins sits glumly. “The only funny bit,” he says, “is when the grass grows over the coffin in the final credits.” “Ah well,” I say, wiping my eyes, “at least you watched till the end!”

Manjula Padmanabhan, author and artist, writes of her life in the fictional town of Elsewhere, US, in this weekly column

Published on May 11, 2018
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