Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Death at a Funeral

posted by Nell Minow
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for language, drug content, and some sexual humor
Profanity:Very strong language
Nudity/Sex:Sexual references, some explicit, non-sexual nudity (bare male tush)
Alcohol/Drugs:Characters inadvertantly take hallucinogenics
Violence/Scariness:Comic peril, character apparently killed
Diversity Issues:Diverse characters
Movie Release Date:April 16, 2010

It feels like the world should come to a stop when someone dies, but unfortunately, it does not. And it feels like the confrontation with the eternal and the shock of grief should somehow make everyone behave, but unfortunately, it does not.death_at_a_funeral_poster_01.jpg
Fortunately, that can be funny, especially when it is happening to someone else. “Death at a Funeral” is a wild, door-slamming, poop-on-the-face, naked-guy-on-the-roof farce set at the funeral of a man whose family did not know him quite as well as they thought. Trying to stay on top of things is the oldest son of the dearly departed, Aaron (Chris Rock), a tax accountant and would-be novelist jealous of his best-selling author brother Ryan (Martin Lawrence). The funeral is at the home that Aaron shares with his wife (Regina Hall) and mother (Loretta Devine). Arriving for the funeral are Aaron’s cousin Elaine (Zoe Saldana of “Avatar”) and her nervous fiance Oscar (James Marsden) and brother Jeff (Columbus Short), family friends Derek (Luke Wilson) and Norman (Tracey Morgan), and cantankerous uncle Russell (Danny Glover). Meanwhile, the wrong body has been delivered by mistake and there is a man at the funeral no one knows, who keeps asking to talk to Aaron about something important.
It all moves along briskly and the juxtaposition of outrageous farce with the most serious of occasions sharpens what would otherwise be pedestrian slapstick. By far the most interesting aspect of the movie is that it is an almost shot-for-shot remake of a British film by the same name, made just three years ago. The two films even share one of the lead actors, Peter Dinklage as the interloper whose relationship with the deceased — and request for payment to keep that relationship quiet — creates a lot of upheaval. Taking a farce that appeared to rely on the understated, restrained British culture in the face of outlandish situations and transplanting it to a black family in Los Angeles demonstrates how much we bring our own expectations to a film.
Director Neil LaBute, best known for searing, disturbing, often-misogynistic plays and movies (“The Shape of Things,” “Your Friends and Neighbors”) lets his able cast run with the material. Marsden is particularly good as the nervous fiance who takes what he thinks is Valium to relax and ends up alternately — and simultaneously — ecstatic, terrified, and utterly dejected. Rock, often uncomfortable on screen, finds some dignity as well as humor in a mostly straight role. Saldana, trim as a greyhound in her LBD, has some great moments as she reassures her frantic fiance and tells off her father, brother, and would-be boyfriend. Hall is delicious as always as a devoted wife who really, really wants a baby — someone needs to give her a starring role. And Dinklage is simply a hoot, one of the most able actors in films today.


Parents should know that this film includes very strong language, sexual references and non-sexual nudity (bare male tush) and graphic potty humor. Characters inadvertently ingest hallucinogens and there is some comic peril and violence including apparent murder.
Family discussion: Compare this movie to the almost shot-for-shot British version to see how a close-to-identical script changes with a different cast and setting.
If you like this, try: The British version by the same name with Peter Dinklage in the same role



  • iorek

    I saw this movie last night and it was hilarious. Hard to believe it was ever British, it seems like an African-American comedy,

  • Alicia

    I saw the British version three years ago. It was a cute movie, and it should translate well.

  • Zack

    Hi moviemom!
    I was just wondering which movie would be more inappropriate,
    Death at a funeral or You dont mess with the Zohan?

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    If you see it, Alicia, let me know how you think it compares!

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Depends on whether you are concerned with sexual humor (Zohan) or drugs and language (Death). Both have comic violence, but Zohan has more.

  • LC

    Hey Nell. Thanks for the reviews. I love your honesty and unbias points of view.
    I saw both versions. I absolutely fell in love with the original British version years ago, and was both excited and a bit nervous about the remake. It seemed the previews were revealing all the funny parts I remembered from the original. After seen it over the weekend, I loved the remake! It was the same but different. It was appropriately different, since the British humor is a bit dry. It was hilarious. It was great to see how the situation translated to an American family. Marsden was superb as the fiance.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Great comment, LC! I loved the contrast — and similarities — between the two films. And Marsden was fantastic!

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