(Funeral Kings was shown as part of the Rhode Island International Film Festival)
The directing duo of Kevin McManus and Matthew McManus begin their debut feature with someone else's end: An in progress funeral procession. Family and friends of the newly departed grieve and sadly weep as the now deceased elderly man lays in his casket, wearing his final suit. An older priest is leading the somber occasion, quietly chanting prayers as the man's loved ones tearfully look onward; filled with both sadness and melancholy. Two twelve year old altar boys are assisting the priest with the procession, but their focus isn't on the suitably depressing event, nor the man whose precious life had just been stripped away. Rather, it is on the gigantic hanging breasts of a college aged mourner, leaning down to wipe the tears from her face. For these almost teenagers, funerals, religion, and common decency don't nearly compare to simply staring at boobies. Just from the opening alone, you know exactly what you're getting: The typical teenagers-wanna-get-laid-and-be-cool raunchy comedy, but this time, you know, with kids instead.
There's an almost gimmicky lowest common denominator comedy in watching tweens swear like sailors and act like wannabe college players, and even during the beginning funeral procession, the McManus brothers' script reaches Kevin Smith levels of profanity. Dylan Hartigan, Alex Maizus, and to a lesser extent Charles Odei, are essentially written and played as three younger versions of Jay from Smith's Clerks, with the scene stealing innocent Jordan Puzzo to serve as their reluctant Silent Bob. Together the gang rob movie rental houses for porn, carelessly shoot handguns, try to go to high school parties, blow off class, smoke cigarettes, attempt to get laid, set off illegal fireworks, get back at drug dealers, and help with funerals for the free wine. They're carefree, rebellious, and some of the most unlikable protagonists I've seen in a very long time.
Once the wild antics of the gang eventually get tiresome somewhere around the 30 minute mark, it quickly becomes apparent that there's no real reason for this movie to exist. The characters are sadly unfleshed out and two-dimensional, the script keeps pumping out four letter words until they've completely lost impact, and the plot is flimsy at best. The McManus brothers seem to believe that we enjoy the gimmickry of swearing kids enough that no substance is necessary, but this isn't the case at all. Maybe as a short this philosophy would've worked, but for a feature is fails miserably.
If you believe Nickelodeon or the Disney Channel need to be far edgier, this movie may be for you. It has all the plot of a mediocre sitcom about about tweens, just with a lot more profanity and irritation. In fact, this very select group may be the only possible audience for the film. Simply put: It's not very good. At all.