The Death of Stalin

It’s not often I say this in my reviews, in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever said it in my reviews, but “The Death of Stalin” is wickedly funny. It’s a political satire about his demise and the comrades who deal with the not-so tragic issue.

Joseph Stalin, one of the most ruthless dictators in history, croaks, and things spin out of control for his comrades and offspring.

Most of the historical figures are by American and British actors, and they’re perfect. They’re aren’t offensive, even if the whole movie was banned in Russia, and they never cease to get you going.

Among the cast, Steve Buscemi plays the Soviet statesman Nikita Khrushchev, who has to arrange Stalin’s funeral, while hoping for a career change. He’s hilarious with his cursing, angry moments, and sleazy flexibility.

Jeffrey Tambor plays Georgy Malenkov, who becomes Stalin’s successor. Despite all the sexual accusations aimed against the actor, he’s very good in the ways he morphs into the character.

Simon Russell Beale plays Lavrentiy Beria, the Marshall of the Soviet Union. I really liked him a lot. He’s smart and funny.

Michael Palin plays Molotov, a politician, who wrongfully ends up in Stalin’s list of enemies. He has his moments.

Rupert Friend and Andrea Riseborough play two of Stalin’s kids, Vasily and Svetlana. I was able to read Vasily’s character more than Svetlana here, but they both give fine performances. In fact, I’ve enjoyed Vasily’s comical anger here.

And Jason Isaacs is viciously deadpan as Zhukov, a Soviet Red Army Officer, whom Khruschev asks to help him get rid of the traitorous Beria. I love the way he’s dressed with all those medals, and I love the way he acts.

“The Death of Stalin” was directed by Armando Iannucci (“In the Loop” and TV’s “Veep”), who based this movie on the comic book. I’ve never read the comic book, but looking at this movie, I can imagine the chaos. Even if you see innocent people being evacuated from their homes and traitors being shot under Stalin’s orders, you’re actually having fun watching this political satire.

It has a lot of comical moments from a live concert being redone so Stalin could have a recorded copy to the final 15 minutes regarding Zhukov’s attack on Beria. It took a while for me to warm up to the characters, but these actors spoof them with the right intentions.

It’s like I’m watching a “Saturday Night Live” skit from the ’70s, when things were more lively. Let us be the laugh track.

This is one of the year’s funniest movies.


Now playing in select cities

Categories: comedy, History

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