This Way Up

This Way Up

****1/2

Reviewed by: Adam Micklethwaite

This Oscar-nominated animation from London-based creators Adam Foulkes and Alan Smith, is an excellent black comedy about the misadventures which befall a pair of undertakers trying to lay to rest the corpse of an old lady. The typically British humour (and I suspect this explains why the short failed to win its Oscar) of the piece combines a Morecambe and Wise style double-act with a darker Pythonesque edge, to great effect. One particularly inspired scene demonstrates that tiny actions can have great consequences, as one wobbling vase sets in motion a bizarre chain of events which ends in the hearse being flattened by a giant boulder, moments before the undertakers can put the body in the back. Minus their car, the pair doggedly continue to fulfil their duty to the deceased, unsuccessfully trying to maintain their dignity in the face of a variety of setbacks.

Set in a mock-Victorian world of greys and blacks, dominated by an all-pervading fog, this film is an excellent combination of charming pop-culture parodies and subtle mockery of the stiff upper lip of the central characters, with much to smile at and some genuinely laugh-out-loud moments, all of which are all the more impressive for being accomplished without the aid of dialogue. Music is used very efficiently – almost completely absent from the sombre opening sequences and then increasing in both volume and impact as the animation moves towards a show-stopping climax.

A comedy about death may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the film deals with the subject tastefully and with a disarming innocence which is hard not to like.

Reviewed on: 22 Jun 2009
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Laying the dead to rest has never been so much trouble.
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Director: Adam Foulkes, Alan Smith

Year: 2008

Runtime: 9 minutes

Country: UK


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