Directed by: Neil LaBute
Premise: Remake of the 2007 film. As an African American family gathers to mourn the passing of one of its elder members, accidents occur and family secrets are revealed.
What Works: Death at a Funeral is a very funny movie. Key to the film’s success is the way it capitalizes on the comedic strengths of its ensemble cast. Martin Lawrence channels his talents as a smooth operator, Chris Rock is the average but earnest leading man, Tracy Morgan plays the buffoon, Danny Glover grumbles as a cranky old man, Zoe Saldana plays an independent young woman caught in a love triangle, and Keith David is cast as an authority figure. Although no one here is stretching, they are able to play to their strengths. And by letting the cast members play to their various strengths, the film manages to incorporate all different flavors of humor from scatological jokes and drug humor to family tensions, sarcasm, and physical comedy. In this way the film keeps the jokes coming and even if one style of humor isn’t to an audience member’s taste, a joke that will be is usually right around the corner. The film also does a nice job of intertwining its various subplots and letting them complicate and foil each other.
What Doesn’t: The ending of Death at a Funeral is not as funny as hoped and the film goes for feel good resolutions that are not really in keeping with the tone of the rest of the movie.
Bottom Line: Death at a Funeral may not be brilliant but it is very funny and worth a look.
Episode: #285 (April 25, 2010)