Funerals are something that many people find intimidating. They’re where emotions run high and friends and family reconnect. With so many feelings involved, it’s no wonder that so many great movies are about funerals or working in a funeral home.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Films About Funerals or Funeral Homes
- Documentaries About Funerals or Funeral Homes
- Funny Movies About Funerals or Funeral Homes
From humorous movies to films that make us consider our own mortality, watching movies about funerals and funeral homes helps us gain acceptance about the uncertainty around death. This is a death-positive way to look at both life and death.
If you’re looking for something new to watch, look no further than this list. Here is a complete list of great movies about funerals or working in a funeral home. You might laugh and you might cry, but you’re sure to learn something.
Tip: The movies on this list will help you understand funerals of all kinds, including virtual funerals. If you're attending or hosting a virtual funeral with a service like GatheringUs, you can still relate to the situations portrayed in these films.
Films About Funerals or Funeral Homes
To start, let’s talk about some of the leading firms about funerals or funeral homes. These are dramas that depict funerals or funeral homes in a new way, giving new meaning to the ideas of movies about death.
1. This Is Where I Leave You
This American comedy-drama is based on a 2009 novel. Following the story of four adult siblings who return to their childhood home after the passing of their father, this is a film about remembrance, connection, and what-ifs.
Though it centers around the character’s emotions around their dad’s death, this is really a movie about family ties.
This Japanese film literally translates to Departures or “one who sends off.” This drama follows a man who returns to his hometown after a failed career and happens upon work as a traditional Japanese mortician.
Though there are strong taboos in his culture about people who deal with death, he finds new meaning through his work.
3. Steel Magnolias
Another comedy-drama film, this story is about a group of women in a small Southern town and how they handle the death of a close friend.
Based on a real-life experience of the death of a sister, Steel Magnolias shows the different ways people grieve at funerals and beyond.
4. The Farewell
The Farewell is an American-Chinese comedy-drama that follows a family who learns their grandmother only has a short bit of time left to live.
Instead of telling her, they schedule a family gathering before she dies. Balancing both cultural norms and questions with the growing pain of grief, this film captures a unique type of farewell.
5. August: Osage County
This film is based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning play, and it features a long list of big-name actors who each do their best to bring this masterpiece to life on the big screen.
August: Osage County is not only about the funeral of a father who died in an accident, but about the ties that keep us together and push us further apart.
6. Harold and Maude
This coming-of-age film might not have been popular upon its release, but it soon grew a cult following for its coming-of-age symbolism.
The film’s main character, Harold, is obsessed with death. He attends funerals, drives a hearse, and fakes suicides to escape his real, everyday life. At one funeral, he meets Maude, a 79-year-old woman who also loves attending funerals. Together, they go on a morbid adventure.
Documentaries About Funerals or Funeral Homes
If you’re more interested in the real-life stories behind funerals and funeral homes, look no further than these documentaries.
7. Alternate Endings: Six New Ways to Die in America
This HBO film from 2019 showcases the creative, yet deeply personal ways families choose to commemorate the lives and deaths of the ones they love.
By talking to funeral professionals themselves, this film shows how these individuals go to great lengths to honor the wishes of families.
You can read our full Alternative Endings review for a deeper look.
8. The Undertaking
The Undertaking is a PBS Frontline documentary that depicts the care and compassion funeral directors emphasize every day.
From day-to-day insights into working at a funeral home to rituals around death, this film is about more than caring for the dead.
9. Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist
Bob Flanagan died when he was just 43, much longer than he was ever expected to live after receiving his cystic fibrosis diagnosis as a child. Though he lived an extreme lifestyle, he attributes his “old age” to his work as a poet, artist, and musician.
In this documentary, viewers are asked to not only take a closer look at his death and his funeral, but also the way he lived his life without fear.
10. How to Die in Oregon
In Oregon, physician-assisted suicide is legal. How to Die in Oregon highlights some of the stories of those who have chosen this route.
It not only shows the care taken by those present during these final moments but also the way that death can be a beautiful transition.
11. A Will for the Woods
In many parts of the world, the green burial movement is increasing in popularity.
A Will for the Woods explores how green burials are planned and performed, showing the compassion of the local funeral homes and crematoriums taking great strides in the world of eco-burials.
12. A Certain Kind of Death
Lastly, the documentary A Certain Kind of Death answers the question of what happens to the bodies of those who die with no next of kin.
A Sundance Award Winner, this film forces us to consider the role of a good and bad death.
Funny Movies About Funerals or Funeral Homes
Not all movies about funerals and funeral homes are sad or heartbreaking. In fact, some are laugh-out-loud funny. In both life and death, it pays to look at the lighter side and laugh a little bit. These movies prove just that.
13. Death at a Funeral
This 2010 film is a black comedy that follows the story of two brothers and their family as they navigate the death of their father.
On their way to the funeral, one of the family members takes a hallucinogenic drug by mistake. As you might expect, chaos and hilarity ensue. Ultimately, this is a story about loss, grief, and family.
14. Four Weddings and a Funeral
The original Four Wedding and a Funeral is a British romantic comedy from 1994. Though you might not think funerals can be a laughing, romantic matter, this film proves otherwise.
Throughout the movie, we see Charles and his friends as they go on various romantic pursuits at—you guessed it—four weddings and a funeral.
15. Last Orders
This British/German film shares the story of four men who honor the death of their fiend by following his “last orders” or final wishes.
Along the way, they learn more about the man they loved so much.
16. The Six Wives of Henry Lefay
While on a trip to Mexico with his fiance, Henry Lefay disappears suddenly while parasailing.
He’s presumed dead, and his daughter makes funeral arrangements. Unfortunately, things are complicated with his current wife and 5 exes appear with their own thoughts on the funeral and burial.
17. My Mexican Shivah
Every family has its quirks, and My Mexican Shivah brings this to life in this Jewish-Mexican tale.
When a family patriarch dies in the middle of a raucous mariachi party, the family uncovers the web of secrets he left behind as they complete the 7-day shivah process.
18. The Pallbearer
Last but not least, The Pallbearer is a 1990s romantic comedy about a 25-year-old man who still lives at home. When he learns his high school best friend is dead, he’s tasked with giving a eulogy at his funeral.
Though he doesn’t remember his friend, he attends the funeral as a pallbearer. Along the way, he grapples with his memory about the past and how he’ll make his way forward from here.
Explore Life and Death on Film
Movies are a way to walk in someone else’s footsteps without ever leaving your home. Whether you’re in the mood for a drama, documentary, or something laugh-out-loud funny, there are so many options from this list to choose from. These 18 films prove that funerals and funeral homes are about more than grief and death. They’re a place for remembrance, coming together, and exploring feelings.
Death, like life, is rarely black and white. From the complexities of funerals to dealing with the grief of a loss, these movies provide a safe, neutral space for exploring life’s challenges. Ultimately, it’s clear that there’s so much to learn about each other, ourselves, and life from the simple act of attending a funeral.
If you know a special (or future!) funeral director or mortician in your life, why not get them a gift? Read our guide on the best gifts for funeral directors for some ideas.