A Private Function (1985) - Rotten Tomatoes

A Private Function (1985)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

A Private Function is set in a postwar England sagging under the weight of restrictive food rationing. Under the watchful eye of Food Ministry inspector Bill Paterson, no one in his Yorkshire district dares do business with the Black Market. But he can't completely stop the food hoarders, of which social-climbing Maggie Smith is the most brazen. When Smith wants to appropriate a pig that is being fattened for slaughter in direct defiance of local laws, she enlists the reluctant aid of her husband, Michael Palin. Fetching the porker is one matter; hiding it in Palin and Smith's house is another. This zany central situation serves as the hub of a film that takes scattered satirical shots at bureaucracy, hypocrisy and too-rigid class consciousness. Throw in a few cruel, gross-out jokes, and you have a crazy concoction in the fine old Monty Python tradition. It's clear throughout that screenwriter Alan Bennett fully intended for the title A Private Function to have a double meaning.

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Michael Palin
as Gilbert Chilvers
Maggie Smith
as Joyce Chilvers
Denholm Elliott
as Dr Charles Swaby
Liz Smith
as Joyce's Mother
Tony Haygarth
as Sutcliff
Alison Steadman
as Mrs. Allardyce
Jim Carter
as Inspector Noble
Eileen O'Brien
as Mrs. Sutcliff
Rachel Davies
as Mrs. Forbes
Reece Dinsdale
as P.C. Penny
Susan Porrett
as Mrs. Medcalf
Denys Hawthorne
as Hotel Manager
Don Estelle
as Barraclough
Eli Woods
as Ernest
Amanda Gregan
as Veronica
Paula Tilbrook
as Mrs. Turnbull
Lee Daley
as Painter's Boy
Gilly Coman
as Dorothy
Josie Lane
as Mrs. Beavers
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Critic Reviews for A Private Function

All Critics (8) | Top Critics (1)

"A Private Function" is an amusing farce in the tradition of old Ealing studio comedies like "The Lavender Hill Mob," and like those movies, it never quite ignites.

January 4, 2018 | Full Review…

Alternating between slapstick satire and black comedy, A Private Function is full meal of comic study and insight.

March 8, 2019 | Full Review…

Bennett's script gently mocks his characters, while also maintaining a level of understanding.

July 17, 2017 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

A gentle and amusing, very English comedy.

April 26, 2013 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Entertains, but never dazzles or impresses us with its script, performances, or even production design.

February 26, 2011 | Rating: 6/10 | Full Review…

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December 31, 2004 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for A Private Function

A woman with social climbing aspirations compels her husband to steal a pig from rich people despite the town's food rationing program. This film is chuckle-funny, scattering a few witty moments. The supporting players, especially Richard Griffiths and the great Maggie Smith, are most responsible for the film's good scenes while Michael Palin doesn't do anything extraordinary to create a discernible character, quite unlike his Python work. Thematically, it's hard to tell what this film is satirizing. It's clear that class is at issue; the upper class characters act ridiculously, and Joyce's societal aspirations seem senseless as a result. But what is going on with the socialist food rationing? Is the film satirizing socialism? The answers to these questions aren't entirely clear. Overall, good for a few yuks, A Private Function isn't a bad film, but it's ultimately disappointing considering the overwhelming talent of its stars.

Jim Hunter
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer


A fun little movie about a couple trying to make it in society during hard times. Love Liz Smith as always along with the rest of the cast.

Sunil Jawahir
Sunil Jawahir

Super Reviewer

A Private Function Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

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