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‘Death at a Funeral’ lively in its comedy

April 22nd, 2010



Sibling rivalry, family secrets, and a few hallucinogens threaten to blow the lid right off of the coffin in Hollywood’s remake of the 2007 British film, “Death at a Funeral.” The film, which was directed by Neil LaBute shows a surprisingly comical day in the life of a family in the wake of death.

While it wasn’t a comedy masterpiece in the slightest sense, and  the film’s lack of originality was inevitable.

The material was adjusted for an American audience, yet still tried to maintain the charm of the original.

Dean Craig, who wrote the 2007 British version, adapted this film to the likes of an American audience.

Luckily, Chris Rock held up to my comedic expectations developed from viewing the trailer of the Americanized British farce.

After his father passes away, Aaron (Rock) is hoping to make it through the day without problems.

With his successful author brother (Martin Lawrence) refusing to pay for the funeral and wife (Regina Hall) desperate for a child, he has a lot on his plate.

Throw in the socially blundering guest (Tracy Morgan), the fiancé (James Marsden) of his cousin (Zoe Saldana) who happens to be under the influence of a hallucinogenic that her brother (Columbus Short) concocted.

Add in a dwarf (Peter Dinklage) claiming to be a “special friend” of the deceased, and their angry uncle Russell (Danny Glover), and you have an interesting day of mourning.

The film was carried by the consistent, and Americanized one-liners, taking the dry humor of the British one step further.

This is seen in the beginning of the film, when the funeral director, after messing up initially, brings Rock the casket back a second time, this time with the right body inside.

Rock, infuriated, makes sure everything is in place.

“Alright, now do you got your keys? Do you got your Black Berry?  Cause once we bury him, we’re not gonna dig him up so you can tweet,” said Rock.

While the film’s unoriginality wasn’t exactly a nail in the coffin, its acting however, may have been.

Two “Saturday Night Live” veterans (Rock and Morgan) and a slew of other comedic actors isn’t exactly the perfect recipe for a movie that demands some moments of acting in a state of grief.

Rock and Lawrence weren’t cut for this type of acting, and it was reflected multiple times throughout the film.

Glover, arrogant as ever, didn’t disappoint as the cross and crass uncle.

Dinklage, who played the dwarf in both versions, was successful at being the awkward, small elephant in the living room.

However, it must have been Marsden’s role as the hallucinogenic “white boy” in the film that was the most random, yet most hilarious.

The overly dazed and confused expression on his face remained consistent throughout, as did the numerous laughs he created from his one-liners: [On being outside in the presence of foliage]: “Everything is so green. It’s like being inside of a lime.”

Audiences will even get to see a bit of Marsden’s forte for singing, as he sings a portion of “Amazing Grace” to the widow before getting completely distracted by a non-existent something only he can see.

Amid all the chaos that is dead people, hallucinogens and homosexual relationships, “Death at a Funeral” stays true to its theme of acceptance.

As crazy and hectic as a family may seem at times, it’s a foundation based on love that keeps its members grounded.

Comedy aside, that’s what “Death at a Funeral” is all about.