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Film / The Living Wake

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A man is only as good as his Living Wake.
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A 2007 film starring Mike O'Connell, Jesse Eisenberg, and Jim Gaffigan.

K. Roth Binew (O'Connell) is an eccentric, self-proclaimed genius who has recently found out that he only has until 7:30 that night to live. He recruits his best and only friend Mills (Eisenberg) to accompany him on his last day to live, in which they search for the true meaning of life in a "brief, but powerful monologue" that K. Roth's vanished father (Gaffigan) once promised to tell him, organize K. Roth's wake and invite everyone in town, and give K. Roth the most eventful last day he could ever have.

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These tropes are dressed for death.

  • Abusive Parents: K. Roth's mom, who doesn't believe him when he says he's dying, and blames his father's disapparence on him, though she does show some remorse when he dies.
  • Adorkable: D'aww, how could you not love silly Mills?
  • The Alcoholic: K. Roth is a pretty severe one. He spends much of the film drinking or drunk.
  • Arc Symbol: Clocks and time are shown and discussed; appropriate for a story about a man with only one day to live.
  • Asexuality: Mills, according to K. Roth, "abhors sex."
  • Attending Your Own Funeral: And organizing it, too. The whole plot of the film revolves around K. Roth preparing his own funeral, so he can attend it and take care of some unfinished business.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Mills is a self-described "eccentric," but K. Roth really gives him a run for his money.
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  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: You could be forgiven for thinking K. Roth's illness doesn't exist, and that he's simply deluded himself... but, no. He really is dying.
  • Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You: As it turns out, he never did.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Everyone dealing with K. Roth can slip into this.
  • Dead Person Conversation: K. Roth's conversations with his father.
  • Deceased Parents Are the Best: Double-subverted. At first K. Roth thinks this about his father, though he believes his father abandoned him, not died. Then he becomes bitter towards his father... until he finds out his father actually died, and didn't abandon him at all, and actually does love him. His mother, who is living, is a complete and utter bitch.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Poor K. Roth skirts over the line again and again and again. Mills crosses it when he dies, too.
  • Died Standing Up: K. Roth dies standing up in his own coffin.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: K. Roth is an alcoholic, and at one point he visits the local bar with the express purpose of doing this.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: K. Roth's spiel about how the people should get to decide things for themselves, not some board.
  • Due to the Dead: Everyone approaches K. Roth's coffin to say their final goodbyes.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: About 12 hours.
  • Face Death with Dignity: After a breakdown, K. Roth finally comes to a moment of clarity, and ends his life with a brief song about how he's ready to die. He comes to the conclusion that it doesn't matter if he didn't achieve all he wanted, or that he never found the meaning of life. What matters is that he tried, and he lived.
  • For the Evulz: K. Roth and Reginald (especially the latter) seem to enjoy being dicks to each other just for the hell of it.
  • Giftedly Bad: K. Roth. He's an absolutely terrible artist, entertainer, and writer, but good luck telling him that.
  • The Good Shepherd: Three members of the clergy K. Roth meets are welcoming and comforting, and help pull K. Roth out of one of his many existential freakouts. They also encourage him to patch things up with Karl, much to K. Roth's dismay.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: K. Roth is a self-absorbed, self-delusional ass, but it's clear he cares about Mills, and he does genuinely want to share his creations with the world. Even if those creations suck.
  • Keet: Mills, most of the time. K. Roth comes off as this, but as the film goes on, it becomes increasingly clear that it's just an act.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: If you listen very, very closely, K. Roth never actually finishes the last word of his song before dying.
  • Killed Off for Real: K. Roth. Knowing this from the beginning does not lessen the impact.
  • May–December Romance: K. Roth uses part of his last day to go on a date with his "true love:" the nanny he had as a child. Despite the fact that she's in her nineties and married. (The husband tags along.) Minutes before he dies, he gives her a kiss... and then gives one to her irritated husband for good measure.
  • Moment of Silence: K. Roth's death is followed by almost complete quiet, until people come up to the coffin to pay their respects.
  • Only Known by Initials: Sort of. K. Roth's full name is Klaus Roth Binnew, but he objects when his mother calls him just "Klaus."
  • The Pollyanna: Mills is constantly smiling and trying to make K. Roth see the bright side of things and keep him happy. Which only makes his despair after K. Roth dies even more heartbreaking.
  • Precocious Crush: K. Roth had one on his nanny as a child. He uses part of his last day to act on it.
  • Rich Bitch: K. Roth's mother. His brother is a male version. Subverted by K. Roth himself, who, while a bit of a jerk at times, does mean well and is a good person at heart.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: K. Roth and Reginald. We never find out why they hate each other, but it's clear the rivalry has been going on for quite a while and is quite vicious. K. Roth tries to bury the hatchet, but when Reginald rebuffs him, he's glad to drag the rivalry out right to the bitter end.
  • Stepford Smiler: K. Roth acts smiley and cheerful most of the time, but he is hiding a lot of issues that will come spilling out if you just barely scratch the surface. The mask finally comes crashing down at the Wake.
  • Stylistic Suck: Most of K. Roth's creative works. They're all mindbogglingly awful, much to his In-Universe audience's dismay... and his out-of-universe audience's delight. But his song "Dressed for Death" is pretty good.
  • Tragic Bromance: Mills and K. Roth's friendship becomes this after K. Roth dies.
  • Unfazed Everyman: Mills is a bit strange himself, but compared to his surroundings, he's downright normal. He takes it all in stride.
  • Upper-Class Twit: K. Roth is rich, pretentious, self-delusional, selfish, and not very bright, to say the least... but there's more to him than that.
  • Viking Funeral: K. Roth wants one. The last shot of the film is Mills granting his wish.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: It's never said where, exactly, K. Roth's hometown is — not even what country. All the characters speak with either American or English accents, which doesn't help narrow it down at all.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: K. Roth's "one woman" show.
  • World of Ham: How hammy? Well, K. Roth may be at his dandiest throughout the picture, but each of the minor characters have some sort of exaggerated, over-the-top quirks to them. Most notable is Reginald as the stock Sitcom Arch-Nemesis, who so revels in his hamminess that he literally throws ham at K. Roth.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: In fact, you don't even have a full day left.
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