Title: Funeral Kings
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Director: Kevin McManus, Matthew McManus
Screenwriters: Kevin McManus, Matthew McManus
Starring: Dylan Hartigan, Alex Maizus, Jordan Puzzo
I really just want to know one thing: where’d they get that kid? Funeral Kings has a lot going for it, including a funny script, an expertly calibrated rhythm, and a whole slew of charming, believable performances from child actors who appear to actually be roughly the same age as the characters they play. But if the film takes off and launches writer-directors Kevin and Matthew McManus to a long and storied career, they’ll owe several fruit baskets to their ridiculously charismatic star Alex Maizus, who has no other IMDb credits but who, if this charming coming-of-ager has any life after SXSW at all, will soon have plenty. Blessed with pitch-perfect comic timing, a refined and hilarious facility with the McManuses’ profane screenplay, and the sort of easy, confident screen presence money and acting classes can’t buy, he elevates what might have been a solid but fairly ordinary festival flick into something to seek out.
The movie itself puts on a brash exterior, giving its 14 year-old protagonists absurdly vulgar dialogue (that’s nonetheless clever enough that it doesn’t devolve into trying to use cussing kids to get cheap laughs), and setting their exploits to a propulsive hip-hop soundtrack. But it’s surprisingly low-key in content, stirring up some intrigue with a mysterious suitcase and some local drug dealers without really building to much more than a series of energetic vignettes. The plot’s head-fakes are a little bit frustrating, but Funeral Kings compensates with moment-to-moment cleverness and a slew of wonderfully specific little details; it’s one of the most purely entertaining films of the festival.
— Eugene Novikov