Ok, so a couple of uncles do get a little over drunk, some of the cousins do get a little rowdy, the grandparents can be a little inappreciably blunt, and the fruit salad, well, it’s turned a shade of green from sitting on the counter for a good week – but at the end of the day, my family get-together is quite tame compared to the dysfunctional bunch in “Eulogy”.
The family patriarch has just passed and the surviving members of the family are reluctantly reunited at Grandma’s house to mourn his passing, prepare his funeral and ultimately, scribble down a eulogy. Unfortunately there’s not a lot of good that can be said about Grandpa (Rip Torn).
Not that his children, now all grown with kids of their own, are angels either. One’s (Ray Romano) a vulgar, rather sour-faced father of two despicable boys, one’s a struggling actor (Hank Azaria)whose biggest claim to fame was a single commercial , another (Kelly Preston) has just brought her lesbian fiancée (Famke Janssen) home to much amusement, and another is a repressed wife and mother (Debra Winger) who’d rather be anywhere but there.
And then there’s Katie (the lovely Zooey Deschanel), the granddaughter, who’s in charge of the eulogy and involuntarily, keeping tabs on her screw loose relatives.
Like your own get-together, not a lot happens in the film either. They bicker, they fight, they sit around the table for a meal and they might catch up with old friends. And don’t go thinking the ‘Eulogy’ element of the film – or even the death of the Patriarch character – means the film’s got a soft, sensitive side just waiting to come out – it doesn’t. If anything, this is a black comedy and then some.
Like similar films, for instance “Greedy” or “Home for the Holidays”, it’s more about watching an ensemble cast try to one-up one another’s performance than anything else – and for what it is, it works. Everything’s quite stellar in their parts, Zooey Deschanel is just delightful, she’s definitely one to watch, Romano does a total 180 from his TV counterpart ‘Raymond’ and it’s really refreshing to watch, and Azaria is his usual scene-stealing self.
For something witty, funny, and ultimately well-performed you can’t go pass it – just don’t go into “Eulogy” expecting to be tainted with a lovely tale of family or the importance of kinship. It’s about as present as the dialogue is subtle.
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