I’m not the kind of person who goes into a Hollywood movie with particularly high expectations. I’m just a college student looking for one more way to avoid doing homework on a weeknight, which is why I went to see “Death at a Funeral,” a remake of the 2007 British comedy starring Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence, and Tracy Morgan. I have not seen the original, so I had no basis of comparison, but I thought that a remake of a British comedy with a mostly black cast would be interesting. From the previews, “Death at a Funeral” looked like a tired screwball comedy at best, but I figured that between three seasoned comics, I would get one or two solid belly laughs. After all, isn’t that why they get paid all of those millions of dollars?
I could not have been more wrong.
The premise of the movie itself is gloriously unfunny: Aaron, a responsible, down-to-earth, businessman (Rock) is trying to lay his father to rest in spite of mounting obstacles—his ovulating wife is trying to conceive; his conceited brother (Lawrence) is constantly broke despite his best-selling books; his niece is desperately trying to cope with her boyfriend’s accidental acid trip; and a midget who claims to be the deceased father’s lover is attempting to blackmail Aaron with explicit pictures. Add some cranky, uptight, and weepy relatives to the mix, and, needless to say, chaos ensues.
Midget jokes are generally funny. Acid jokes are generally funny. But the divergent subplots unfolding against the backdrop of a body growing cold in the next room do not make this movie funny. I felt awkward watching it, like being a guest in someone’s home and watching the hosts fight as though I were not there. A perfect example comes when Aaron’s wife tells him she is wearing no underwear in an attempt to seduce him. Aaron hisses, “What is the matter with you?! My father is dead! Go put some panties on before you go downstairs! Big ones!” After that exchange, I felt a little embarrassed, both for myself and Aaron, who for the life of him cannot seem to keep his father in a casket for more than five minutes, let alone have a funeral.
As the movie dragged on, the antics got more and more outlandish, and I thought more and more about the homework I wasn’t doing. About three quarters of the way through the movie, the niece’s boyfriend, high as a kite, crawls on the roof stark naked and continues to talk to himself (the poor schmuck, played by James Marsden, was unfortunately no more entertaining with his clothes off than on). Tracy Morgan’s character runs through the house like a five-year old asking people about a rash on his hand, which he is certain is fatal (it’s not, but I was grossed out listening to him talk about it).
When the movie finally ended, I realized that a nap would have been a better way to spend an hour and a half. At least I would have been in a better mindset to do work. On my next procrastination venture, I’m staying in and watching one of my favorite chick flicks.