‘Death At A Funeral’ – Dead Joking
Directed by Neil LaBute (“In the Company of Men”) with his misogynist claws clipped, “Death” is a remake of a 2007 English comedy. Co-producer/ star Rock snatched up rights to the original, substituting mostly African- American comics for Caucasian Brits biting their stiff-upper lips in the face of funereal foolishness.
Included on the updated list of grossouts are a misplaced corpse, a gay dwarf sharing the coffin with the corpse, an LSD-addled boyfriend naked on a roof, and bowel-movement embarrassment that is a new high (or low) in the annals (or, anals) of bathroom humor.
The only touch of restraint comes from Rock himself who, as oldest son Aaron, plays it disappointingly straight-laced. The most laughs are from Martin Lawrence as his brother, in-debt trash novelist Ryan, and Tracy Morgan as family friend Norman, recruited for the thankless job of wrestling with incontinent Uncle Russell (Danny Glover) in the aforementioned bathroom scene.
Other not so humorous roles are provided by Zoë Saldaña (without her “Avatar” tail) and Luke Wilson, looking lost.
“Death at a Funeral,” America-style, never fully connects to the funny bone in most of its hour and a half. But again, be warned. The audience gets the full blast of over-the-top hilarity in the bowel-eruption episode.
Considering the comic power potential of Rock, Lawrence and Morgan, “Death at a Funeral” should at least be as funny as its title.
Maybe, some things are better left to the Brits.