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Movie Review:Death at a Funeral (April, 2010)

Director: Neil LaBute
Screenplay: Dean Craig
Release Date: April 16, treatment 2010
Actors: Chris Rock, viagra Martin Lawrence, Luke Wilson, Tracy Morgan, Zoe Saldana, Danny Glover, James Marsden, Columbus Short, Peter Dinkling, Keith David, Regina Hall, Ron Glass
Based on the British film of the same name (remake)

Based on the amusing British original film of the same name, Death at A Funeral is a movie full of misses rather than hits. About a upper class wealthy black family who has recently lost their head of household — their father, Chris Rock plays the older son (Aaron), and Martin Lawrence plays the younger son (Ryan), who is a household name by writing not-so-good books. They’re about to have a wake for their dad, and their very dysfunctional family and friends start to arrive. But before the funeral can really begin, things start to run awry.

With a huge star cast including Danny Glover, Zoe Saldana, James Marsden, Regina Hall, Keith David, Ron Glass, Keith Dinklage, Columbus Short, Loretta Devine, Luke Wilson, Tracy Morgan, one would hope that this comedy would be funny, but it retains none of the British humor in this not-so-good remake. The jokes that are made aren’t that funny until the physical humor starts in. Dysfunctional families can be funny if done well (the soon to be released City Island is one such movie), but this one missed it on the mark – both as a straight out comedy or a dark/black comedy. Honestly, I wasn’t that fond of the original, but found it to be more likable than this one. Hardly any of the characters were likeable, except for possibly James Marsden as Oscar (mostly because he is clearly not acting like himself for a good reason). Many of the characters seemed very flat, most of which you just wanted to slap silly or drop on their head. There were a few standouts, as I mentioned, James Marsden playing Oscar. I’m quite fond of Columbus Short, who played Derek, and the character, though not fleshed out, was not pompous or self involved like many of the characters.

When Chris Rock went into “Short’n Bread”, I almost cringed, it was a bit too painful to listen to. I felt Death at a Funeral could not make up its mind whether or not to be a straight out comedy or to be a dark comedy. Since it never really found its stride, most of it was disturbing or just uncomfortable. Not to say there weren’t some funny moments, involving Oscar and Derek (though the one involving Uncle Russell and Tracy Morgan’s Norman was a bit too much.)

Would I recommend this? No, unless you have an absolutely favorite actor in it. I would have never paid to have seen it, and I would not have rented it. Maybe it if were on TV, I’d catch it, but I don’t think most people would be missing much if they skipped this one. It’s a shame given that with such a large talented cast, they weren’t able to pull out a story that would be more funny than what they ended up with.

Skip, wait for when it broadcasts on TV. 2 coffins / 5 coffins


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