The Pallbearer (1996)

PG-13  |   |  Comedy, Romance  |  3 May 1996 (USA)
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Ratings: 4.9/10 from 5,974 users  
Reviews: 54 user | 18 critic

A young man's life is thrown into a loop when he is asked to be a pallbearer for the funeral of a classmate he doesn't remember, and his old high school crush temporarily returns to town.


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Tom's Mother
Jean De Baer ...
Aunt Lucille
Philip DeMarco
The Job Interviewer
Robin Morse ...
Tony Machine ...
The Undertaker


Chaos unfolds as Tom is roped into being a pallbearer (and delivering the eulogy!) by the mother of a recently deceased "friend" from high school that he just can't remember. In the meantime, an unrequited love from high school (NOT the dead guy's girlfriend) reappears in his life. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A comedy about life-long crushes, mistaken identity and one really bad eulogy. See more »


Comedy | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some sexuality and language | See all certifications »


Official Sites:



Release Date:

3 May 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Amigo Desconhecido  »

Box Office


$8,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The roller coaster Tom and Julie ride is actually the Blue Streak, which is located at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. See more »


When the mother is making instant coffee, the jar label is turned between shots. See more »


Brad Schorr: Did you have sex with the dead guy's mother?
Tom: Don't make a big deal out of it!
Brad Schorr: Did you tell Scott?
See more »


Referenced in Scream 3 (2000) See more »


Papa Loves Mambo
Written by Al Hoffman, Dick Manning & Bix Reichner
Performed by Perry Como
Courtesy of The RCA Records Label of BMG Entertainment
See more »

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User Reviews

Often overlooked, but delightful film
23 May 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Maybe it was the great, eclectic soundtrack with the likes of Django Reinhardt, Herbie Hancock, Perry Como, Curtis Mayfield, Neil Young and Richie Havens, or maybe it was the dark and subtle bits of humor that pleasantly surprised me throughout the movie, but I really enjoyed this one.

We meet Tom, a forlorn twenty-something man-child still living at home and struggling to take control of his life, played by David Schwimmer of "Friends" fame. Tom gets a call from a woman who mistakenly believes he knew her recently deceased son. He goes along with it, presumably to save her the added grief of knowing her son had no close friends. Of course, Tom's accommodating nature backfires and he's asked to give the eulogy for a man he never knew. This sets up a scene with the kind of dark humor seen throughout the movie that audiences are either delighted with or immediately turned off by.

At the funeral, Tom meets Julie, his unrequited high school crush, played with genuine emotion and winsome grace by Gwyneth Paltrow. Thus begins two relationships that play out over the duration of the film --one with Grace, the bereft mother of the friend Tom never had, played by Barbara Hershey, and the other with Julie.

Yes, this movie owes much, in terms of plot and characters, to "The Graduate," with Hershey playing the counterpart to Anne Bancroft's Mrs. Robinson. But it turns out to be much more than just an update of the '60s classic. The audience really gets to know the inner turmoil both Tom and Julie are going through -- Tom, both for the guilt of becoming unwittingly involved with Grace, and for also being involved with Julie at the same time, and Julie, for being torn between striking out on her own to escape her overbearing parents and getting into a deep relationship with Tom.

There are a couple of sideplots going on with Tom's friends -- Michael Rapaport's character getting married to a woman his friends don't like, and Michael Vardan's married character, making a move on Julie, which obviously infuriates Tom. And Carol Kane as Tom's mom, is precious. In one scene, he is livid after she bursts into his room unannounced. After she receives a brief scolding for not knocking, she replies "I only wanted to see if you wanted some ice cream," to which he replies "A little."

Schwimmer nails the role, with his underplayed, tacit sadness about his so-far-failed attempt at making a responsible life for himself. And Paltrow, well, can she ever miss? Whether for the dark humor, spot-on acting, or superb soundtrack, this one is definitely worth a viewing.

19 of 21 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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