When Edmund Collins (Rip Torn) dies, his family return home for the funeral. The foibles of his four children (Hank Azaria, Kelly Preston, Ray Romano and Debra Winger) are front and centre from minute one. The tensions between them are boiling over constantly. His wife (Piper Laurie) is taking the death very hard. Will his granddaughter, Kate (Zooey Deschanel) be able to write and deliver a meaningful eulogy against this backdrop?

On face value, Eulogy has everything going for it. An irreverent black comedy, with a dysfunctional family portrayed by a highly-respected ensemble cast should earn it four stars before it has even started. Sadly, Eulogy misses at every opportunity, with most of the blame falling squarely at the feet of first-time writer/director Michael Clancy.

Within a minute it becomes apparent that Eulogy is a poor man's Royal Tenenbaums, with tiny flecks of Magnolia, and even Festen, thrown in. It's all been done before significantly better than this time and time again. You'd be better served watching any of those films instead.

The script starts with a promising premise, then coasts for the entire film, never once including any amusing or touching dialogue. Apart from the audience, it's the actors that suffer most. With the exception of Zooey Deschanel and Famke Janssen, the performances are career lows across the board. Their characters are one-dimensional and not as dysfunctional as Clancy might think.

Zooey Deschanel has somehow manages to take her one-dimensional character (the normal one in the family) and flesh it out to give it some heart. Someone should give her a decent script and let her achieve her potential. Despite her talent, she can't save the film, even when she gives the supposedly touching eulogy. There's been far too much blandness for the audience to care by this point.

Clancy's direction doesn't really extend beyond pointing the camera at the actors, but he should be pulled up over the use of a couple of incredibly distracting special effects.

Eulogy isn't as weird and dysfunctional as it thinks it is. It's not as emotional, funny, or good either.

Reviewed on: 26 Dec 2005
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Black comedy about three generations of a family who come together for a funeral.
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Director: Michael Clancy

Writer: Michael Clancy

Starring: Zooey Deschanel, Rip Torn, Famke Janssen, Hank Azaria, Ray Romano, Piper Laurie, Debra Winger, Kelly Preston, Jesse Bradford

Year: 2004

Runtime: 91 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: USA, UK, Germany


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If you like this, try:

The Royal Tenenbaums