Death at a Funeral (2010)
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this remake of a 2007 British comedy leaves no subject untouched in its quest to make its audiences laugh, including death, deception, and drugs. The humor's pretty adult, including a secret about a relative's sexuality, although the film has a fair helping of potty humor (thanks to Tracy Morgan) as well. There's plenty of swearing (including "s--t," "f--k" and "asshole"), and some of the movie's most pointed humor comes from the consequences of popping hallucinogenic pills. Though all played for laughs, the sibling rivalry, blackmail, and insults don't make for the best humor for impressionable kids.
What's the story?
It's a difficult day for Aaron (Chris Rock), an accountant. His dad has died and it's the day of his funeral, which is taking place at their home. He's set to deliver the eulogy, disappointing fans of his famous author brother, Ryan (Martin Lawrence). And that's not all. As the day unfolds, Aaron discovers Ryan won't be able to share the funeral costs; that his wife Michelle (Regina Hall), is on the last day of her cycle and needs impregnating, quick; and that a stranger (Peter Dinklage) has a secret that could ruin the reputation of his father. His long-secret novel is no longer secret, and a guest (James Marsden) appears to be high as a kite and unable to keep it together. How will he get through it all?
Is it any good?
Much like the original (and identically named) British version, DEATH AT THE FUNERAL is stuffed to the gills with comedic moments, some of which are so golden they make it worthwhile seeing, and others that basically should have just been thrown out. First, the upsides: The film works so hard to make you laugh, you can't resist. One after another, the jokes pile up, and even though most of them are just plain juvenile -- the scatological jokes, the loopy, drugged-out-but-hilarious mess that is James Marsden -- you can't help but laugh. (The poop jokes, which center around the talented Tracy Morgan and, surprisingly, the usually grave Danny Glover, are so Comedy 101 that, had the movie not been laced with profanity, a preschooler would've been rolling in the aisles at those scenes. Who knew director Neil LaBute, better known for dramas, was so proficient with them?)
Still, some bits are plain tired: It's nice to see Luke Wilson onscreen, but his character really doesn't bring much to the table. An ancillary storyline about mother-daughter tensions contributes so little to the film's comedic impact -- besides, it's cliched -- as to be superfluous. And though Marsden milks every moment of its comedic value, some of his scenes could've fallen to the editing floor, too; there just are too many. Pared down, Death at a Funeral could've been a perfectly distilled batch of pure comedy. Will it elevate the genre? Hardly. But funny? That it is.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about why gatherings such as funerals, births, and holidays bring out the best and worst in families. What is it about these moments that drive people to unbox old grudges and reveal secrets?
What was so funny about the drug use in the movie? Was it realistically portrayed? What are real consequences of taking drugs like they do in the movie?
The movie's a farce, clearly, and yet it has some universal truths about families in it. What do you think they are?