Death at a Funeral (UK - BD)
Marcus attends a family funeral and doesn't feel bad having a few laughs...
It’s the day of Aaron’s (Chris Rock) father’s funeral and the family are gathering to say their farewells. However, on this day of reflection and respect, family secrets begin to come out, including Aaron’s father’s secret affair with his lover Frank (Peter Dinklage) (who happens to be a little person).
When Frank threatens to blackmail the family to keep the truth a secret, Aaron and his brother Ryan (Martin Lawrence) struggle desperately to keep the little guy quiet and as the stressful day gets worse when all the family elements begin to come together, a bad day just gets worse.
You read anything about Death at a Funeral anywhere and it’s almost unavoidable to get comparisons to the original British movie of the same name that is apparently infinitely better. Well I ain’t ever seen the original flick so I have nothing to compare this remake (or “cover song” as Chris Rock calls it) to, so for me I went in fresh and after a very funny trailer and a whole lot of cast that I’ve liked a lot in other movies, I was more than open to have a chuckle at a funeral.
It’s certainly not the tightest of comedies out there, but I’ve got to say I really enjoyed the ensemble here. Everyone bounces off of each other well (very well in fact, when it comes to Chris Rock and Martin Lawrence, who are a blast in their scenes together). Every one of the character arcs come with great performance and their fair share of funny and there’s enough variations of comedy flavours for the threads to stay enjoyable.
James Marsden is really enjoying himself here and provides many of the bigger laughs and I also found Zoe Saldana great as the straight man role to counter against him. Danny Glover’s grumpy old man role is made all the funnier due to Tracey Morgan’s reactions to his Uncle Russell and though he does nothing to really push the boat out, Chris Rock’s performance at the centre of the mayhem is a great one to anchor the movie and as always his delivery on some of the dialogue is priceless.
Death At a Funeral is an enjoyable ensemble movie with some great lines and some likable characters (almost the exact opposite to Chris Rock’s current ensemble movie Grown Ups) and it does make me want to seek out the original as I find the set-up of a comedy set at a funeral pretty enjoyable. As for this remake, I don’t know if it's a comedy I need to rush back to for the nuances as its played pretty broad, but I know for sure that if I came across it late night on TV I’d happy re-watch it into the early hours and over time I could grow pretty fond of it, if only for the feel good vibe the cast generate.
Death at a Funeral’s 2.40:1 transfer has a wonderfully clean and warm look to it. The palette of grey and black suites against the warm brown backgrounds makes for quite a pretty Blu-ray to look at.
Both interior and exterior scenes have a pleasant glow to them with an above average level of detail on offer (though not above average enough to be considered exceptional). Skin textures vary but are generally good but light sources are all captured well and have a real presence in the frame so in summation, Death at a Funeral is another very pretty looking Sony release.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 doesn’t exactly make the movie bigger than you’d expect it to be, but it does everything that’s expected of it very well. Dialogue is strong in the centre speakers with the odd pieces of music on the track filling the rears well and filling the track out. Background sounds also pop up from time to time, especially in the exterior scenes and overall the track focuses on delivering the goods if only within the boundaries of a comedy.
The commentary with director Neil Labute and Chris Rock is Labute heavy throughout, with Chris Rock dropping in from time to time to provide a joke or two. The two get on well and discuss little conversations on set like Tracey Morgan playing Louis Armstrong one day and winning an Oscar, Zoe Saldana having a great year in movies (she really did) and Rock’s relationships with the other actors.
Beside the expected BD-Live and movieIQ, there are seven deleted scenes (07:13 SD), none of which seemed to add much more to existing scenes, and a ‘Gag Reel’ (02:37 SD) that moved a little too fast to feel the laughs.
‘Death at a Funeral: Last Rites, Dark Secrets’ (20:11 HD) is the main making of and features more stories from Rock about the making of the movie and the hiring of the director and the cast. Adding to that nicely is ‘Family Album’ (10:59 HD) is each member of the cast introducing their character and ‘Death for Real’ (05:55 HD has the cast discussing the elephant in the room—death—and how something that scares us all can be funny.
Lastly there are trailers for Blu-ray is High Definition, Armoured, Bounty Hunter and Grown Ups.
Death at a Funeral seems to have gotten a rough deal by critics, but there’s nothing that wrong with it at all (unless remaking movies is a crime now). I guess it comes down to how much you like the cast, but for me everyone works well together and generates some genuine chuckles and the funeral backdrop somehow makes it work better.
The disc looks great, sounds good and has a good but not great set of features, so while it’s not a must have disc (a cast commentary could have made it that) it’s certainly a solid release that deserves your time.
* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 27th September 2010
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 German, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 French, English Audio Description
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Arabic, Dutch, French, German, Hindi, Turkish
Extras: Commentary, Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, Gag Reel, Trailers
Easter Egg: No
Director: Neil LaBute
Cast: Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence, Luke Wilson, Tracy Morgan, Danny Glover, Regina Hall, Kevin Hart, James Marsden. Zoe Saldana, Loretta Devine, Ron Glass.Peter Dinklage, Columbus Short
Genre: Comedy and Drama
Length: 92 minutes
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