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Movie Review: Death at a Funeral (2010)

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This is one funeral that your sure not to forget. Not because of the atmosphere of sadness, and mourning, but because of the hilarious, comical events that take place at this funeral, which will have you laughing, the whole way through. Death At A Funeral features an all-star cast, including Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence, Danny Glover, Tracy Morgan, Regina Hall, Loretta Devine, Zoe Saldana, Columbus Short, with appearances by Peter Dinklage, Luke Wilson, and James Marsden. The storyline is adapted from a British film of the same name, and is directed by Neil LaBute. The storyline of the films is about a disastrous funeral for a family member where embarrassing secrets are revealed. The screenplay is by Dean Craig who wrote the original 2007 version.

Aaron (Chris Rock) has been giving the responsibility of organizing his father’s funeral, which is to take place inside his childhood home. However from the start things do not go well (including the wrong body being placed in his father’s coffin), and things only get worse as more and more family members and friends of his father show up at the house for the funeral.

One of the most interesting things about the movie is the pairing of two of America’s best known black comedians Chris Rock and Martin Lawrence as brothers, especially given their very different comedic performance styles. However Lawrence and Rock manage to work well together on-screen. Their scenes of sibling rivalry show evidence of their individual skills, while blending together nicely. Just when you think you have enough laughter for one film with Rock and Lawrence, you add comedian Tracy Morgan into the mix as family friend Norman. Morgan brings things up to another level at times outshining Lawrence and Rock’s performances in scenes.

Beside Rock, Lawrence,and Morgan’s performances, veteran actor Danny Glover plays grouchy, rude, angry Uncle Russell. When Glover’s character isn’t in the bathroom or eating he is constantly cursing out Morgan’s character, or telling someone else off. The interesting thing about Glover’s performance was that it is one that we haven’t seen from him before. True, Glover showed that he could do comedy due to his performance in 2004’s film The Cookout. I don’t think we’ve ever seen Glover use as much profanity in a film as he does here as the wheelchair-bound uncle.

However what really adds the over-the-top elements to the film are Peter Dinklage’s performance as Aaron and Ryan’s deceased father’s male lover. He comes to blackmail the family with scandalous pictures of their father. James Marsden as Elaine (Zoe Saldana)’s fiance, who after being accidentally drugged with acid by Saldana and Short’s characters, starts acting out erratically at the funeral including everything from knocking over a coffin, to standing on a rooftop naked.

Overall, the film comes across as mediocre. At times it seems like certain things were overused such as the repeated drug references. Also as you will notice the film also throws out references to pop-culture figures who have notoriously had very public problems concerning their lives, example Amy Winehouse and R. Kelly.

In terms of storyline and development the film is very similar to the 2001 film Kingdom Come which is also a comedy featuring a all-black cast, about a family trying to organize a funeral for the deceased head of the family, and all the problems they face in the process which also leads to comical fights and arguments amongst family members. Both films depict sibling rivalry in a humorous way, as well as martial problems concerning having children (both feature Loretta Devine too, which is interesting due to the similarities of the films, in Funeral she plays the grieving mother of Rock and Lawrence’s character, in Come she plays the loud-mouth aunt). The film is also similar to the Martin Lawrence film Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins.

However we have seen this type of scenario in movies before, so if you want to stick with a film that stays within the formula you should definitely consider seeing Death at a Funeral.

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About Kadeem Lundy

  • Steve H

    Good review of a good remake of the original British film “Death at a Funeral” featuring the same male ex-lover. Remakes usually aren’t good so I was at first hesitant to watch this but the casting was good and the film quite good.