A dark indie comedy that apparently made the festival rounds but never actually made it around to many theaters, "Eulogy" offers a great cast, but the humor never really gels. The picture stars Zooey Deschanel, one of my favorite actresses, as Kate, the granddaughter of a recently departed man (Rip Torn), whose wish it was to have Kate deliver the eulogy at his funeral. So, in the days before his funeral, she has to look into the life of the man via his children (Ray Romano, Debra Winger, Kelly Preston and, playing Kate's father, Hank Azaria), reunited for the proceedings.
There's some of the expected bits from a movie like this - Preston's character comes home with a girlfriend (Famke Janssen) and it's a shock to everyone that she's a lesbian. The Romano character's twin boys are troublemakers and have a vocabulary that's a bit older than their age. The wildly differing personalities of the family get on each other's nerves, and arguements break out throughout the picture. Kate also has a romantic interest in her grandfather's next door neighbor, Ryan (Jesse Bradford).
Visually, the picture appears to be low budget, with minimal sets and a plain, low-light appearance. Writer/director Michael Clancy often manages to overcome these faults with some very funny moments in the screenplay (the two kids that play the twins are highly amusing), but the film lacks a rhythm - there's some funny moments here, but the picture never gets the kind energy or timing down that would make the material really catch on. Some of the jokes also just fall flat, but overall, the comedy has some great lines.
The performances are generally good across the board, with Romano doing a pretty good job playing a guy who's never advanced past his teenage years. The twins playing his twin sons are also hilarious. Deschanel is also a stand-out as the only sane one in the equation. "Eulogy" really could have been more in the hands of another director, but this is a decent debut from the director, with some decent laughs and some moments that just don't click. A surprise towards the end also leads to a rather sentimental last chunk that doesn't work too well. Overall, the film's a rental.
VIDEO: "Eulogy" is presented by Lion's Gate in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Either due to the filming or filtering, the picture often appears rather soft. Some scenes appear a bit crisper than others, but small object detail is often lacking. Some edge enhancement, mild grain and light pixelation is also briefly visible in a couple of scenes. Colors looked a little subdued and occasionally a tiny bit smeary, but brighter colors sometimes show through. Overall, an average transfer.
SOUND: "Eulogy" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. The surrounds light up once or twice for some minor ambience and a couple of brief times for some minor reinforcement of the music, but that's about it. Otherwise, this is a mostly dialogue-driven flick. Audio quality remained fine, with clear, natural-sounding dialogue.
EXTRAS: A series of deleted/extended/alternate scenes and trailers for other Lion's Gate titles.
Final Thoughts: "Eulogy" has the elements together, but it's as if the whole thing needed more refining and more rehearsal. There's some funny bits here, but the movie never works as well as it should - it's a rental. The DVD edition provides average audio/video and a couple of minor supplements.