Fri, Sep 07, 2007 - Page 16 News List

Death 'n' yucks, hallucinogens 'n' stiff upper lips

Six gags in 'Death at a Funeral' live up to director Frank Oz's reputation for farce

By MATT ZOLLER SEITZ  /  NY Times News Service , New York

The most striking guest is a mysterious dwarf named Peter (Peter Dinklage) who shows up uninvited, reveals a secret, demands a share of the family fortune and spends much of the film hog-tied and abused. Peter's short stature and homosexuality are presented as an obvious (albeit comic) source of menace, and the script - which goes out of its way to make every other character at least fitfully endearing - never treats him as anything but a ridiculous inconvenience.

Farces aren't supposed to be polite, but Peter's treatment feels singularly cheap. It takes an infamous, sardonic Randy Newman lyric at face value: "Don't want no short people 'round here."

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