Review A Day Presents : DEATH AT A FUNERAL (2010)


Written By : Dean Craig

Directed By : Neil LaBute

Starring : Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence and Keith David

Neil LaButes remake of the 2007 British film of the same name is an ensemble piece where unfortunately the ensemble overwhelms the piece. Confession time: it's hard reviewing comedies. Comedies basically have one question. Does it make me laugh? Nothing else is important. To answer simply : sometimes. Sometimes I laughed during DEATH AT A FUNERAL.
I found the film quite maddening at times. The cast is superb, Chris Rock, Tracy Morgan, Danny Glover, Loretta Devine and the list goes on and on, and that's part of the problem. This movie should be better. It's tough to get Rock as the straight man to all the madness going on around him, and yes I know he's done it before, but it didn't work then either. Morgan basically becomes one long shit joke after Glover literally poops on him. Poop and shit jokes may be par for the course in a Kevin Smith film, but having Sergent Roger Murtaugh shitting on people is a disgrace!
The film does contain some very funny things though. Regina Hall as Rocks baby desperate wife is great in what limited time she has, as is James Marsden who gets drugged, strips naked and unfortunately disappears for a large chunk of the film. Peter Dinklage, the only member of the the original cast and the cast, steals the show by showing up at the funeral claiming to be the decedents dead gay lover.
Unfortunately there is just too much going on here for the film to sort through. Certain characters are given compelling story lines that are forgotten about halfway through the film only to be revisited much later. Very Talented actors (Zoe Saldana, Luke Wilson, Keith David) are lost and give the film a Wheres Waldo? type of vibe, in that they disappear for so long, that when they reappear in their tertiary story lines, it's like they were never in the film at all.
Labute is most well known for his character driven dramas. His career took a hard hit (like everyone elses involved) with the 2007 remake of THE WICKERMAN. DEATH AT A FUNERAL is an attempt to return to his roots, unfortunately for him the source material just doesn't hold up. Originally a playwright, LaButes strenght is in his ability to develop characters on paper then translate them to the screen, here's hoping he puts pen to paper and writes for himself next time.

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