“Death at a Funeral” keeps the streak of winning comedies that have hit theaters this spring going strong by delivering to the audience a priceless, witty celebration of life and death.
The premise from this picture is based on a British comedy of the same name from 2007 and the picture was reworked to focus on an American household. The plot deals with how a dysfunctional family tries to cope with the loss of the patriarch and that is the glue that holds together a hilarious series of vignettes with some pretty unique characters. The movie holds true to form with a constant stream of humor, which is mostly of the toilet variety but at the same time the audience is given some characters that are easy to empathize. The script successfully manages to balance all that is essential in making “Death at a Funeral” the funniest funeral you will ever attend.
It is also marks the return to comedy for Neil LaBute, who unsuccessfully tried to direct suspense pictures.For those unfamiliar with his work,Â LaBute is the man responsible for the Nicolas Cage travesty/remake, “The Wicker Man.” His early work was forged on the comedy of human relations with “Your Friends and Neighbors” and “Nurse Betty,” which is more in league with “Death at a Funeral.”
However, direction alone doesn’t make for good comedy and LaBute assembled an amazing cast that delivers the goods. The cast is headlined by Chris Rock in his most adult role yet. This is also the best role the comedian has had since his days on “Saturday Night Live.” We all knew Rock was talented but his movie roles have been sketchy by never utilizing his talent and here he is allowed to be comedic and dramatic as the most together person in the entire family. He is the only character that seems to understand that the funeral is the last and only time that he can discuss the true feelings he has towards his father. Doing the eulogy is what he feels most strongly about and he tries to keep the family and himself together despite the turmoil that surrounds him.
But a large portion of the film’s comedy comes from the most unlikely source, James Marsden. His girlfriend, played by the beautiful and talented Zoe Saldana, slips him what she mistakenly thinks is valium but is actually acid. This leaves Marsden high as a kite and loving how green the world is for the entire funeral. Also he seems to spend a lot of time naked on the roof.
Peter Dinklage reprises his role from the 2007 version as the man with something to confess to the family, which the trailers constantly leak.
This is only a small part of the cast that includes Tracy Morgan, Martin Lawrence, Luke Wilson and Danny Glover doing their small parts to make this comedy work.
In fact, one scene between Glover and Morgan on a toilet bowl is so hysterical while being equally gross that you can’t help but be amazed that they went this far and still managed not to lose the audience, proving the theory that when done in a sharply written and funny manner, anything can be funny.
The movie becomes a little sentimental at the end, losing the way and the audacity that it maintained for most of the picture, but that flaw is a small price to pay for such a winning and emotionally honest comedy on family values.
“Death at a Funeral” has one purpose, which is to give the audience intelligent toilet humor and there is nothing wrong with that.
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