It’s been six weeks since people in many areas of the country went into their homes to shelter in place to avoid the coronavirus. Looking for fresh movies to keep you distracted from the bad news out there?
Welcome to the Coronavirus Cinema Collection: Funny Funeral Films, hosted by Gail Rubin, the Doyenne of Death. These film recommendations for hunkering down at home bring a light touch to the dark topic of death. The movies in the Coronavirus Cinema Collection are designed to entertain while educating about funeral planning issues and planning ahead for end of life.
These Funny Funeral Films recommendations all have funerals at the center of the story line. They give us insights into various aspects of funeral planning that maybe you haven’t thought about, but maybe you should.
One aspect of comedy involves watching someone else in pain. Funerals provide plenty of comedic material. It’s sad that funerals and memorial services these days require less than 10 people in attendance with six feet of distance between individuals. These films show funerals from the time we could all be much physically closer.
There will be additional Coronavirus Cinema Collection videos coming at Gail Rubin’s YouTube channel in the near future. Subscribe to the channel and be the first to know about new videos! Feel free to add your own Funny Funeral Film suggestions in the comment box.
Here are brief descriptions of each film and Amazon affiliate links to these movies discussed in the video. There are also links to Friday Funeral Film blog posts that go into more detail about each movie at The Family Plot Blog at AGoodGoodbye.com.
Death at a Funeral (UK and US versions)
The first version of Death at a Funeral was filmed in the UK and came out in 2007. A second version of Death at a Funeral was produced in the US in 2010 with an African American cast. Both versions of the film feature Peter Dinklage, now known for his Emmy Award-winning role as Tyrion Lannister in HBO’s Game of Thrones series. Both versions of the film offer lessons on writing eulogies, paying for funerals, holding a home funeral, and crazy family interactions at funerals.
There is a short clip from the US version of the film included in the video review. Read more about Death at a Funeral.
Elizabethtown is a 2006 romantic comedy starring Orlando Bloom, Kirsten Dunst, Susan Sarandon and others. It provides lessons on the similarities of weddings and funerals, the differences between Kentucky and Oregon in rates of cremation and burial, and elements of planning a memorial service. It also has a great music soundtrack and shows scenes of scattering cremated remains. Learn more about Elizabethtown in this blog post about The Many Faces of Grief and Mourning in the Movies.
Undertaking Betty is a romantic comedy from 2006 starring Alfred Molina, Brenda Blethyn and Christopher Walken. There are a number of interesting funerals in this film, as it pits two competing funeral directors in a small town in Wales against each other. One is traditional, the other is a big proponent of themed funerals. It offers lessons on personalizing funerals and planning ahead for funerals.
There is a short clip from this film included in the video review. Read more about Undertaking Betty.
Six Wives of Henry Lefay is a 2009 comedy that stars Tim Allen. As the name implies, Henry Lefay has been married a few times. At the beginning of the film, it looks like Henry dies in a parasailing accident in Mexico. This causes his current wife and ex-wives to come together at the funeral home in conflict over what Henry wanted. He wrote letters to each of his wives about what he wanted – burial or cremation – but these wishes changed with each wife. The film also illuminates issues regarding business succession, estate planning, funeral planning, and keeping your arrangements up-to-date. Read more about The Six Wives of Henry Lefay.
Honorable Mention: Harold and Maude
Harold and Maude gets an honorary shout out, even though it doesn’t focus on funerals. The main characters meet while attending the funerals of people they don’t know. There is a short clip from this film included in the video review. This film will be explored further in another Coronavirus Cinema Collection. Read more about Harold and Maude.
About Gail Rubin, CT, The Doyenne of Death
Gail Rubin, CT, The Doyenne of Death®, is a pioneering death educator who uses humor, film clips, and outside the box activities to help people learn about and plan ahead for end-of-life issues. A doyenne is a woman who’s considered senior in a group who knows a lot about a particular subject. Gail is a Certified Thanatologist (that’s the CT after her name).
She is the author of award-winning books: A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die, Kicking the Bucket List: 100 Downsizing and Organizing Things to Do Before You Die, and Hail and Farewell: Cremation Ceremonies, Templates and Tips. She is also the coordinator of the award-winning Before I Die New Mexico Festival.
Her 2015 TEDx talk, A Good Goodbye, focuses on the importance of starting end-of-life conversations before there’s a death in the family. Albuquerque Business First named her one of their Women of Influence in 2019.
She’s a member of the Association for Death Education and Counseling, the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association, Toastmasters International and the National Speakers Association. Her motto is: “Talking about sex won’t make you pregnant. Talking about funerals won’t make you dead.”