In Chris Rock’s newest film, Death at a Funeral, the multiple Emmy- and Grammy-award winning comedian stars as the eldest son charged with bringing (and keeping) the family together after its patriarch dies.
To say the day started out badly for Aaron (Rock) is an understatement. The casket that the funeral director brought to the home had the wrong body (“If this is not him,” the mortician speculates, “then your father is in one of two places.”) Dad eventually turns-up, but so do a plethora of problems. Cousins, friends, wild Uncle Russell (Danny Glover), and a little person with a big revelation and a blackmail scheme add to the chaos Aaron must moderate.
He gets no help from younger brother Ryan (Martin Lawrence), a successful albeit penniless writer. After all, organizing the service, delivering the eulogy, hiding the dead midget’s body... these are all the duties of the eldest son. But Aaron has other things on his mind, too. Some day he would like to save enough for his own home and maybe even publish a novel.
But that day is not today, not with so many dysfunctional relationships in need of mending and a father so deserving of a noble sendoff. From somewhere, though, Aaron musters the wherewithal and when the dust settles and the last naked guest falls from the roof, he pulls it all together for an almost happy ending.
Strike-up another casualty of the financial crisis. Notwithstanding the once bankable comedy triumvirate of Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence and Tracy Morgan, Death at a Funeral was DOA at the box office. The beating it took from How to Train Your Dragon is understandable; the popular DreamWorks film has been at the top for five weeks. But a shellacking from Jennifer Lopez’s The Back-up Plan? How is that possible?
For many reasons. One: it is a preposterous premise, which when you consider that it is a remake of a critically acclaimed film, sounds impossible but only begins to describe how ruinous this movie really is. Two: No one will ever want to shake Tracy Morgan’s hand again (we’ll leave it at that). Three: Danny Glover, the brilliant star of films like The Color Purple and Silverado, is stuck on the toilet for most of the movie. I could go on, but how many different ways does the point need to be made. The real “Death” at this “Funeral” is the dignity of those involved.
MPAA Rating: R for language and drug content.