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Funeral Kings

SXSW 2012 film review

Funeral Kings

Director & Screenwriter: Kevin Mcmanus, Matthew Mcmanus For three 14-year-old boys at St. Mark's Middle School, it's always a good day for a funeral. Cast: Dylan Hartigan, Alex Maizus, Jordan Puzzo, Charles Odei, Kevin Corrigan (World Premiere)

Film Synopsis (from SXSW.com)

WHO'S IT FOR?: Moviegoers who like a little vulgar attitude with their coming-of-age tales.


As a coming-of-maturity story, Funeral Kings wants to express the growth of three young boys through first-hand situations that are either goofy (learning how to party like a high schooler) or serious (learning to not play with guns). Working with both of these tones, the story always wants to charm its audience with a foul-mouthed edge, which never works during the more directly comedic material.

In comparison to the (valuable) lessons learned by the boys (especially in the third act), and compared to the bars of juvenile chicanery raised by movies like Superbad, the not-so-serious chapters are just too fluffy. Maybe if child swearing were new ground for films, Funeral Kings would be the rebellious kid it wants to be.

Even the heavy cussing makes Funeral Kings feel more cute than it was probably intended to be. Giggles and guffaws are based on the triumph of finding young actors (especially Dylan Hartigan) who can cuss so recklessly. Whereas in other places the movie can be effective with its attitude, its main goal feels as cornily cute as a teddy bear that makes the middle finger.

It's not just the cussing, it's also the episodes of tomfoolery that don't help Funeral Kings' effective cause. The episodes of rambunctious altar-serving that this film likes to refer back to are not as funny as Funeral Kings may be convinced. This is simply because they're sometimes too forced with unreasonable shenanigans no altar server would actually be able to pull off. For example, stealing some holy wine is a playful concept, but using a portable game device while serving a funeral is a desperate stretch. Points to Funeral Kings for expressing an altar boy's angst, but the comedic perspective is largely unproductive in this part of the story.

Though it has tendencies to show some real attitude (or "balls," in man talk) for a movie with young actors, Funeral Kings mostly aims to make people laugh with its potty mouths and Superbad-like party antics. You'll like the movie most when its attitude feels genuinely fresh - as on display in the third act. But for a large chunk of it, Funeral Kings is not as shocking or mature as it may think.