To many, a funeral is no laughing matter. But when you team some of the funniest actors in show business together in one movie get ready to ‘bust a gut.’
“Death at a Funeral” stars Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence and Tracy Morgan in an outrageously funny film about the death of a loved one who had a big secret, but that’s only half the story.
Factor in the relatives and their issues, and you’ve got a funeral that will leave you in tears . . . laughing.
“Death at a Funeral” is based on a 2007 British movie of the same title; actually it’s the same movie, only instead of happening in the English countryside, it’s now set in Pasadena.
Chris Rock had the idea to remake the film with an American cast, after seeing the movie in a small theater that didn’t have a large audience, yet the people couldn’t stop laughing.
“It seemed like we could make a different movie and the same movie at the same time,” he says. “It had a lot of parts, so we would have a chance to cast a lot of funny people.” And that’s exactly what he did.
Rock stars as Aaron, the brother who stayed home, while his younger brother Ryan (Martin Lawrence) left and became a successful, but broke published novelist, living in New York. It goes without saying there is tension between the two and a great deal of sibling rivalry.
An A-list of stars helps to inflame the situation, and they have their own issues.
There’s Cousin Norman, played by Tracy Morgan (NBC’s “30 Rock,” “Cop Out”), who always seems to be stuck with the dirty work, like taking care of Uncle Russell played by Danny Glover (“2012”), who is meaner than a junkyard dog.
Then there is Loretta Devine (“This Christmas”) as the grieving widow, unhappy about not having grandchildren. She constantly reminds Aaron’s wife Michelle, portrayed by Regina Hall (“Law Abiding Citizen”), that she’s failing at her wifely duties.
Zoe Saldana (“Avatar,” “Star Trek”) stars as Elaine, the daughter secretly engaged to Oscar played by James Marsden (“Enchanted”), who is hated by the deceased’s brother–Ron Glass (“Lakeview Terrace”). He also happens to be Elaine’s father.
After Oscar, ingests hallucinogenic drugs, it’s up to Columbus Short (“Stomp the Yard,” “Armored”) who plays Zoe’s brother Jeff, who illegally made the drugs in the first place, to keep a close eye on the fiancé, who is by the way running around naked. While Luke Wilson (“Idiocracy”) stars as the love starved ex-boyfriend desperately trying everything to get Elaine back. Confused? Don’t be. It gets even funnier.
Things begin to boil over when Frank, played by Peter Dinklage (“The Station Agent”), a very good friend of the deceased shows up, and what he proposes tips everyone over the edge. Dinklage, by the way, is the only actor to reprise his role from the original 2007 movie.
You have to see the movie to figure out how all of “Death at a Funeral” plays out. The cast is outstanding, and that’s not by accident. With Rock as the producer, quite naturally he called on some of his friends, namely Martin Lawrence, who at first turned him down but after some readjustments, came on board. Tracy Morgan said he was overjoyed to be a part of the team, noting that Lawrence is one of his idols.
It might be about a funeral but, “Death at a Funeral” has been rated R for language, drug content and some sexual humor, and this might not be one for the kiddies.
Get your serious laugh on at “Death at a Funeral” in theaters Friday.
Gail can be reached at gail@hollywoodbychoice.com.