Death at a Funeral

8 Jul

Title: Death at a Funeral
Year: 2010
Director: Neil LaBute
Writer: Dean Craig
Starring: Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence, Luke Wilson, Tracy Morgan, Danny Glover, Regina Hall, Kevin Hart, James Marsden, Zoe Saldana, Loretta Devine, Ron Glass, Peter Dinklage, Columbus Short
MPAA Rating: R, language, drug content and some sexual humor
Runtime: 92 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating: 4.7
Rotten Tomatoes: 38%

I went to Death at a Funeral expecting to leave severely disappointed, after all, the original British film from which this one is adapted is incredibly funny and I was sure that this one wouldn’t be able to convey the incredible British wit and humor that made the original a stand-out for me, but this one turned out to be an incredibly faithful adaptation, and has the same writer doing pretty much an identical script, and even a returning actor from the original in Peter Dinklage and, yes, in the end it does fail to live up to the original’s strengths, but it manages to be quite an amusing film with a pretty cool cast which includes Zoe Saldana, who I love.

And, really, just like with the original, it is because of the cast that this movie has any chance of working, granted, the original worked better, but this one has enough talent to make it work, too, and it does, in many ways. The original is much better because it showed much more restraint were as this one is much more over-the-top which mostly results in bad-taste outcomes (and not in the good sense which the original exploited), which are mostly just that, bad situations, but often times make for huge laughs, and that is, at the end of the day, why we go to a movie like this, because we want those big laughs. And in the end, this one does indeed achieve what the original did, which is to have us laughing about things that we shouldn’t be laughing about, and it does so by not trying to, but in fact by doing it all with complete seriousness and then having us surprised to laughing about things we know we shouldn’t be laughing at. I mean seriously, Peter Dinklage is the most serious guy ever, and yet he’s one of the best parts about this.

I actually don’t really want to go that much into the plot, because it’s not really that important, I mean, it’s a great one to keep the comedy going, and going at full speed at that, but just know that the patriarch of a family has died and the funeral is to take place at home, Chris Rock is his responsible son and we also get the Martin Lawrence character, a womanizer who has flown in for the funeral from New York. Then all kind of weird things ensue.

The one cast member I really thought made the character his own in comparison to the last film was James Marsden, who took a role Alan Tudyk rocked in the original and was funny in his own way in this one. Not to say that the other actors are just copying the ones from the original, they’re not, Chris Rock is reliably funny as he always is, and does have the good chemistry we would expect he’d have with Martin Lawrence, but the thing I meant is that, both Rock and Lawrence are at their best comedy-wise when they imprint their characters with their own brand of humor, and I think they stuck too much to the original characters this time around, I guess that’s one of the downfalls of making an adaptation as faithful as this one. Peter Dinklage, though, seeing as how he played the same role he played in the original is as funny as he was back then, which is to say plenty.

But this is still a good screwball comedy, because what these comedies need is high-octane energy and for something to always be happening and for actors to have great timing, and that’s all there in this one, but I obviously can’t help but compare it to the original, and in that comparison it doesn’t win, the only thing this one has the original didn’t is Zoe Saldana, who is not only beautiful, but is also quite good in this one.

Grade: B-

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