Funeral Kings

Posted: December 7, 2013 in Film
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,


Funeral Kings is a movie that focuses on a week in the life of a few 14-year-old fuck-ups who happen to be altar boys. Don’t worry, none of those type of shenanigans occur. These may not necessarily be bad kids, but they certainly make some very bad, brainless decisions.

This movie is the first feature-length effort from the McManus brothers (writers/directors), and it has gathered figurative dust on my Netflix queue because child actors mostly provide bad performances. After hitting the jackpot with Mud, I rolled the dice and was not so handsomely rewarded by Funeral Kings.

While Andy (played by Dylan Hartigan), Charlie (played by Alex Maizus), and David (played by Jordan Puzzo) were neither polished characters nor polished performances from these child actors, there is something somewhat likable or at least enjoyable about these kids and the shit they stir up.


From the onset, Andy and Charlie are the main characters and presumed Funeral Kings, which is such a stupid title although they couldn’t call it Altar Boys without avoiding ambiguity with The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys. Despite the spotty, uneven acting from Dylan Hartigan and Alex Maizus, these kids prove more than capable of embodying teenage angst. Thanks to muddled, mildly fucked up family lives, these 14-year-olds manage to find themselves in a shitload of trouble.

Anyone expecting a phenomenal, classic independent film should have already lowered their expectations at this point. It is certainly not a stretch to define the early portion of Funeral Kings as aimless and uninteresting. In the beginning, Andy and Charlie have an older altar boy friend named Robert who seems to be in some mysterious type of trouble so he drops off a loaded locker to Andy’s house.

The instructions were clear: don’t open the locker.

Of course, the kids become obsessed with finding out how to open the fucking locker. If only they can pop that sucker open and see what is inside so they can reap the rewards. Curiosity killed the cat. Within the first 20 minutes, you’re introduced to David who is the hapless altar boy replacement for Robert. Jodan Puzzo as David appears to be insanely innocent and in jeopardy of being corrupted by Andy and Charlie. And then you find out that David acted in a major, widely known mainstream movie (Bloody Knuckles), which becomes a minor subplot because David has never actually watched the whole movie.

Once you outlast the plodding plot set-up in the first 20 minutes, the next 45 minutes is thoroughly entertaining as you see the growth and evolution of certain characters. But the problem is that Funeral Kings is a scant 85 minutes. The last 20 minutes of this movie are muddled and this story could have stopped at several different points. It would be unfair to characterize those 20-minute chunks that bookend the story as being unwatchably bad, but the center of this movie is its heart.

Boiled down to its purest form, this coming-of-age story is about being personally responsible and not falling in with the wrong crowd. In fact, there is literally a scene in the middle of the movie where Andy’s step-mom tells him that there comes a point when everyone decides who they want to be for the rest of their lives. It’s no surprise that we see Andy make such a decision later on near the end.


I wish Funeral Kings would have went a notch darker in tone to unshackle the Iggy character played by Kevin Corrigan—who everyone should recognize from one movie or another. With a little more creativity, this movie could have really separated itself from others in the same category to become something truly unique. I also wasn’t thrilled with the choice of rap music since it detracted and distracted. Some sharper sound and writing would have seriously elevated Funeral Kings, but I still think this was a memorable and worthwhile watch. If you have Netflix, I would recommend watching this movie streaming.

If like me, then you really wanted to punch Charlie (played by little Alex Maizus) right in his stupid face. Push past the extremely unlikable moments of these characters, and you’ll find something worth rooting for and watching. Funeral Kings may only be a 3-star film, but the McManus brothers deserve some extra credit in their first feature effort due to the degree of difficulty working with child actors.

3.5 out of 5 stars


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