871. This Way Up – Alan Smith, Adam Foulkes

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SUMMARY: Two undertakers attempt to transport a body to a graveyard when their hearse is crushed by a boulder.

WHY IT’S HERE: ‘This Way Up’ is a very funny black comedy in which two hapless undertakers pull out all the stops to get a coffin to a grave when their hearse is destroyed. There’s an element of ‘Weekend at Bernie’s’ to the grim slapstick as the coffin and body go through all sorts of tribulations on the way to the final resting place. Towards the end there’s a bravura sequence in which the undertakers and the coffin are plunged into Hell. It is likely this portion of the film that got the short Oscar nominated, although it is questionable whether it really works. Personally, I prefer the short when it is more grounded in reality and the fact that the undertakers effectively defy death to come back to the surface and bury the body seems to push the film into a new and less amusing realm. Overall though, ‘This Way Up’ is definitely worth seeing for its moments of great dark slapstick and the inventive (over)ambition of the Hell sequence.

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