Chris Rock, Luke Wilson, Martin Lawrence, Tracy Morgan, James Marsden, Zoe Saldana, Danny Glover and Peter Dinklage star in a hilarious comedy that puts the “fun” in “funeral”! When the patriarch of a dysfunctional family dies, his funeral turns into family circus. Misplaced bodies, blackmail, indecent exposure and a corpse that won’t stay in the box get the party started, but when old family skeletons start tumbling out of the closet, all Hell breaks loose.
Less than three years after the 2007 Brit-com Death at a Funeral
hit theaters, this remake offered a nearly scene-for-scene variation on the original. Once again a family has gathered for the dignified memorial service for a patriarch: older son (Chris Rock) has prepared a eulogy; younger son (Martin Lawrence) has flown in on his celebrity as a bestselling author; favorite niece (Zoe Saldana) has brought her fiancé (James Marsden, flipping out), unaware that he has accidentally ingested a hallucinogen manufactured by her pharmaceutically minded brother (Columbus Short, from Cadillac Records
). You know, the usual fare for a funeral. The wild card is a stranger (Peter Dinklage, the only member of the cast to repeat his role from the 2007 film) who has something urgent to impart to the two sons. There's nothing terribly elevated about the slapstick, and one particular scatological sequence tests the boundaries of the bearable (30 Rock
's Tracy Morgan, in his usual unbounded form, takes the brunt of this scene). The unexpected director is Neil LaBute, who shows off his sense of comic timing and keeps the whole apparatus moving along briskly. In addition to the relatively subdued lead turns by Rock and Lawrence, the big cast includes Danny Glover, Regina Hall, Luke Wilson, and Loretta Devine. It is almost irrelevant to debate whether this version improves or deflates the original; both hit their marks, deliver the broad yuks, and leave behind a mostly mechanical feel. But the job is accomplished--now rest in peace. --Robert Horton